IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Fiscal rules, inertia and discretionary fiscal policy

  • Martin Larch
  • Matteo Salto

In current practice, changes in the cyclically-adjusted budget balance (CAB) are interpreted as reflecting the effort of discretionary fiscal policy. This paper shows that such an interpretation is not a sufficiently accurate description of the behaviour of fiscal policy, as, in some cases, it may conceal an important deficit bias. Specifically, as growth projections are an important building block of budgetary plans, systematic optimism in forecasting growth, coupled with pervasive lags and inertia in the implementation phase of the budget, will result in a fiscal expansion compared to plans, even in the absence of discretionary measures. In order to track down this kind of passive behaviour in the light of growth surprises or sanguine growth assumptions the traditional reading of the CAB needs to be adjusted. This is achieved by relaxing the benchmark assumption according to which, under unchanged fiscal policy, the deficit-to-GDP ratio is invariant to growth. An empirical application to public finance data of four large EU countries shows that passive behaviour is an important element in practice, as forecast errors are significant in explaining changes in the CAB. Moreover, in some cases official growth forecasts appear to have a clear upward bias.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00036840500109589
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 37 (2005)
Issue (Month): 10 ()
Pages: 1135-1146

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:37:y:2005:i:10:p:1135-1146
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.tandfonline.com/RAEC20

Order Information: Web: http://www.tandfonline.com/pricing/journal/RAEC20

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. G. A. Mackenzie, 1989. "Are All Summary Indicators of the Stance of Fiscal Policy Misleading?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 36(4), pages 743-770, December.
  2. Artis, M. & Marcellino, M., 1999. "Fiscal Forecasting: the Track Record of the IMF, OECD and EC," Economics Working Papers eco99/22, European University Institute.
  3. Jordi Gali & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Integration in Europe," NBER Working Papers 9773, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Paul van den Noord, 2000. "The Size and Role of Automatic Fiscal Stabilizers in the 1990s and Beyond," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 230, OECD Publishing.
  5. Christopher Allsopp & Michael J. Artis, 2003. "The Assessment: EMU, Four Years On," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 1-29.
  6. Antonio Fatás & Ilian Mihov, 2003. "The Case For Restricting Fiscal Policy Discretion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1419-1447, November.
  7. Roberto Perotti, 2004. "Estimating the effects of fiscal policy in OECD countries," Working Papers 276, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  8. Bouthevillain, Carine & Cour-Thimann, Philippine & van de Dool, Gerrit & Hernández de Cos, Pablo & Langenus, Geert & Mohr, Matthias & Momigliano, Sandro & Tujula, Mika, 2001. "Cyclically adjusted budget balances: an alternative approach," Working Paper Series 0077, European Central Bank.
  9. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes: What Are the Stylized Facts?," CESifo Working Paper Series 459, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  11. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior Of U.S. Public Debt And Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963, August.
  12. Jordi GalÌ & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal policy and monetary integration in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 18(37), pages 533-572, October.
  13. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 2002. "An Empirical Characterization Of The Dynamic Effects Of Changes In Government Spending And Taxes On Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1329-1368, November.
  14. Perotti, Roberto, 2002. "Estimating the effects of fiscal policy in OECD countries," Working Paper Series 0168, European Central Bank.
  15. Alberto F. Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1999. "Budget Deficits and Budget Institutions," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 13-36 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Torres,Francisco & Giavazzi,Francesco (ed.), 1993. "Adjustment and Growth in the European Monetary Union," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521440196.
  17. F. Ballabriga & C. Martinez-Mongay, 2002. "Has EMU shifted policy?," European Economy - Economic Papers 166, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  18. Marco Buti & Paul van den Noord, 2003. "Discretionary Fiscal Policy and Elections: The Experience of the Early Years of EMU," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 351, OECD Publishing.
  19. Claude Giorno & Pete Richardson & Deborah Roseveare & Paul van den Noord, 1995. "Estimating Potential Output, Output Gaps and Structural Budget Balances," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 152, OECD Publishing.
  20. Olivier Jean Blanchard, 1990. "Suggestions for a New Set of Fiscal Indicators," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 79, OECD Publishing.
  21. Jean-Claude Chouraqui & Robert P. Hagemann & Nicola Sartor, 1990. "Indicators of Fiscal Policy: A Re-Examination," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 78, OECD Publishing.
  22. George Kopits & Steven A. Symansky, 1998. "Fiscal Policy Rules," IMF Occasional Papers 162, International Monetary Fund.
  23. John B. Taylor, 2000. "Reassessing Discretionary Fiscal Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 21-36, Summer.
  24. Edward M. Gramlich, 1990. "Fiscal Indicators," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 80, OECD Publishing.
  25. Braconier, Henrik & Holden, Steinar, 1999. "The Public Budget Balance - Fiscal Indicators and Cyclical Sensitivity in the Nordic Countries," Working Paper 67, National Institute of Economic Research.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:37:y:2005:i:10:p:1135-1146. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael McNulty)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.