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Size-corrected inference in fiscal policy reaction functions: a three country assessment

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  • Helmut Herwartz

    () (Georg-August-University Göttingen)

  • Malte Rengel

    (Georg-August-University Göttingen)

Abstract

As a reflection of both strong persistence of debt-to-GDP ratios and correlation of respective innovations with governments’ primary surpluses, standard t-tests in policy reaction functions show actual significance levels that are up to five times larger than their nominal reference. Adopting size-controlled inference by means of Monte Carlo-based and asymptotic Bonferroni critical values, we diagnose fiscal policies in the US and the UK to be sustainable in samples covering more than 100 years. Conditioning on post-WWII subsamples and 5% nominal significance, conventional t-tests signal fiscal sustainability for these countries. In contrast, size-corrected inference hints at a lack of fiscal sustainability and, thus is recommended for the ‘real-time’ monitoring of public debt. The fiscal policy of Portugal is found to lack sustainability irrespective of the considered sample period.

Suggested Citation

  • Helmut Herwartz & Malte Rengel, 2018. "Size-corrected inference in fiscal policy reaction functions: a three country assessment," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 55(2), pages 391-416, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:empeco:v:55:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s00181-017-1282-x
    DOI: 10.1007/s00181-017-1282-x
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    Cited by:

    1. Malte Rengel, 2020. "Sustainability of European fiscal balances: Just a statistical artifact?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 58(4), pages 1681-1712, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public debt; Sustainability; Unit roots; Bonferroni test; Monte Carlo inference; Predictive regressions;

    JEL classification:

    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H68 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Forecasts of Budgets, Deficits, and Debt

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