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Does the design of a fiscal rule matter for welfare?

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  • Landon, Stuart
  • Smith, Constance

Abstract

This study uses Monte Carlo methods to examine the impact on welfare of several types of commonly used fiscal rules. The simulations employ an expected intertemporal welfare function and the parameters from a three-variable structural VAR estimated using data for sixteen European countries. The VAR captures the potential interaction effects between output, government spending and revenue. We find welfare gains from many, but not all, of the fiscal rules. The best rules target a zero structural deficit and cause government spending volatility to fall by about one third. However, a simple rule, where government expenditure is set equal to a one-period ahead forecast of revenue, performs almost as well. In particular, this simple rule yields a welfare gain and a reduction in volatility similar to that of the more complicated zero structural deficit rule adopted by Switzerland and several other countries. Balanced budget rules perform less well than rules that target the structural deficit. A rule that keeps real per capita government spending equal to a constant—a type of rule adopted by some U.S. states—yields relatively low welfare and often leads to significant debt accumulation. These results highlight the importance of the appropriate design of a fiscal rule.

Suggested Citation

  • Landon, Stuart & Smith, Constance, 2017. "Does the design of a fiscal rule matter for welfare?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 226-237.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:226-237
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2017.01.020
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    E61; E62; E63; H61; H62; H63; Fiscal rules; Fiscal policy; Stabilization; Government spending; European economic policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • H61 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Budget; Budget Systems
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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