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Fiscal Rules and Twin Deficits: The Link between Fiscal and External Balances

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  • Harald Badinger
  • Aurélien Fichet de Clairfontaine
  • Wolf Heinrich Reuter

Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between countries' fiscal balances and current accounts with an emphasis on the role of fiscal rules. The direct effect of fiscal policy on the current account via aggregate (import) demand is potentially amplified by indirect effects, materializing through interest rate effects and inter-generational transfers that reduce savings. On the other hand, the implied positive relation between fiscal and external balances is potentially attenuated by offsetting changes in savings through Ricardian equivalence considerations. We expect this attenuation effect to be stronger in countries with more stringent fiscal rules and test this hypothesis using a panel of 73 countries over the period 1985-2012. As previous studies we find a positive effect of fiscal balances on the current account, supporting the twin deficit hypothesis. However, the effect of fiscal balances on the current account depends on the stringency of fiscal (budget balance or debt) rules in place; it is reduced by one third on average and virtually eliminated for countries with the most stringent fiscal rules.
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Suggested Citation

  • Harald Badinger & Aurélien Fichet de Clairfontaine & Wolf Heinrich Reuter, 2017. "Fiscal Rules and Twin Deficits: The Link between Fiscal and External Balances," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 21-35, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:40:y:2017:i:1:p:21-35
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/twec.12427
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    1. repec:pal:palcom:v:5:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1057_s41599-019-0304-z is not listed on IDEAS
    2. António Afonso & Florence Huart & João Tovar Jalles & Piotr Stanek, 2018. "Twin Deficits Revisited: a role for fiscal institutions?," Working Papers REM 2018/31, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, REM, Universidade de Lisboa.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics

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