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Automatic Fiscal Stabilisers in EMU: A Conflict between Efficiency and Stabilisation?

Listed author(s):
  • Marco Buti
  • Carlos Martinez-Mongay
  • Khalid Sekkat
  • Paul van den Noord

It is often claimed that tax and welfare reforms that aim at enhancing efficiency may come at the cost of cyclical stabilisation. Reducing the generosity of welfare systems and lowering taxes may boost efficiency and output, and improve market adjustment to shocks. But, by reducing the size of automatic stabilisers, it may also imply less cyclical smoothing. This would be unwelcome in EMU given the loss of national monetary autonomy and the well-known pitfalls of active fiscal management. This paper argues that the alleged trade-off between efficiency/flexibility and stabilisation may not exist. We show that, if the initial level of the tax burden is high, reducing it may lead to higher output stabilisation in the event of a supply shock and higher inflation stabilisation in the event of a demand shock. Simulations show that European countries - especially small ones - might have a tax burden close to or even higher than the threshold level. (JEL E52, E61, F42)

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/cesifo/49.1.123
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Article provided by CESifo in its journal CESifo Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 49 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 123-140

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Handle: RePEc:oup:cesifo:v:49:y:2003:i:1:p:123-140.
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  1. Paul van den Noord & Chistopher Heady, 2001. "Surveillance of Tax Policies: A Synthesis of Findings in Economic Surveys," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 303, OECD Publishing.
  2. Francesco Daveri & Guido Tabellini, 2000. "Unemployment, growth and taxation in industrial countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 47-104, 04.
  3. Pissarides, Christopher A., 1998. "The impact of employment tax cuts on unemployment and wages; The role of unemployment benefits and tax structure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 155-183, January.
  4. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 997-1032, October.
  5. Kneller, Richard & Bleaney, Michael F. & Gemmell, Norman, 1999. "Fiscal policy and growth: evidence from OECD countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 171-190, November.
  6. Gali, Jordi, 1994. "Government size and macroeconomic stability," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 117-132, January.
  7. Alan J. Auerbach & Daniel R. Feenberg, 2000. "The Significance of Federal Taxes as Automatic Stabilizers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 37-56, Summer.
  8. Marco Buti & André Sapir, 2002. "EMU in the Early Years: Differences and Credibility," Chapters,in: EMU and Economic Policy in Europe, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
  9. Peter Hoeller & Claude Giorno & Christine de la Maisonneuve, 2002. "Overheating in Small Euro Area Economies: Should Fiscal Policy React?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 323, OECD Publishing.
  10. Hairault, Jean-Olivier & Langot, Francois & Portier, Franck, 2001. "Efficiency and stabilization: reducing Harberger triangles and Okun gaps," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 209-214, February.
  11. von Hagen, Jürgen & Brückner, Matthias, 2001. "Monetary policy in unknown territory: The European Central Bank in the early years," ZEI Working Papers B 18-2001, University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies.
  12. Marco Buti & Carlos Martinez-Mongay & Khalid Sekkat & Paul van den Noord, 2002. "Automatic Stabilisers and Market Flexibility in EMU: Is There A Trade-Off?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 335, OECD Publishing.
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