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Fiscal Discretion and Elections in the Early Years of EMU

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  • Marco Buti
  • Paul Noord

Abstract

An early criticism of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) has pointed to its asymmetric nature and the weak mechanisms to prevent politically-motivated fiscal policies: its constraints would bite in downswings but not in upswings, especially if, in the latter, the electoral cycle increases the temptation to run expansionary policies. We find that the experience of the initial years of EMU lends support to this criticism. Overall, unlike the experience in the run-up to EMU, fiscal policies had an expansionary bias, and a 'genuine' discretionary boost took place in correspondence to political elections. Both sign and composition of such discretionary changes are in line with the predictions of the recent literature on electoral budget cycles. Closer fiscal surveillance may help detect such behaviour early on, but it is unlikely to curb the incentives to run politically-motivated fiscal policies when elections approach. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2004.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Buti & Paul Noord, 2004. "Fiscal Discretion and Elections in the Early Years of EMU," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(4), pages 737-756, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jcmkts:v:42:y:2004:i:4:p:737-756
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, "undated". "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes: What are the Stylized Facts?," Working Papers 189, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    2. repec:sae:niesru:v:174:y::i:1:p:92-104 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Marco Buti & Paul van den Noord, 2004. "Fiscal policy in EMU: Rules, discretion and political incentives," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 206, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    4. Buti, Marco, 2003. "Revisiting the stability and growth pact: grand design or internal adjustment?," Sede de la CEPAL en Santiago (Estudios e Investigaciones) 34908, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    5. Buti, Marco & Eijffinger, Sylvester C W & Franco, Daniele, 2003. "Revisiting the Stability and Growth Pact: Grand Design or Internal Adjustment?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3692, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2003. "Do Electoral Cycles Differ Across Political Systems?," Working Papers 232, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    7. Marco Buti & Bertrand Martinot, 2000. "Open Issues On the Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 174(1), pages 92-104, October.
    8. Coricelli, Fabrizio & Ercolani, Valerio, 2002. "Cyclical and Structural Deficits on the Road to Accession: Fiscal Rules for an Enlarged European Union," CEPR Discussion Papers 3672, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. André Sapir & Marco Buti, 2002. "EMU and economic policy in Europe: the challenge of the early years," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/8072, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    10. Reyes Maroto Illera & Carlos Mulas-Granados, 2002. "Duration of Fiscal Budgetary Consolidations in the European Union," European Economy Group Working Papers 18, European Economy Group.
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