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Testing EU fiscal surveillance: how sensitive is it to variations in output gap estimates?

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  • Sven Langedijk
  • Martin Larch

Abstract

Real-time estimates of potential output are used for the calculation of the cyclically adjusted budget balance, one of the main indicators in the assessment of the fiscal performance of EU member states. The estimation of potential output involves a decomposition of actual output into a cyclical and a structural component based on arbitrary assumptions about the statistical properties of the two unobserved components. With a very high degree of smoothing, variations in GDP are mostly taken to be temporary, as are the ensuing changes in the budget deficit. Conversely, with a low degree of smoothing, variations in GDP are mostly taken to be permanent, leading to different policy conclusions. Our paper examines whether and how different potential output estimates would have supported different decisions in the EU budgetary surveillance in terms of both timing and substance. The results show that only a very high degree of smoothing of potential output would significantly reduce the reliability of the surveillance indicators. We conclude that a higher degree of smoothing compared with current practice would not be harmful for EU fiscal surveillance, while it could contribute to more cautious policies by signalling larger and longer periods of economic 'good times'.

Suggested Citation

  • Sven Langedijk & Martin Larch, 2011. "Testing EU fiscal surveillance: how sensitive is it to variations in output gap estimates?," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(1), pages 39-60.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:25:y:2011:i:1:p:39-60
    DOI: 10.1080/02692170903426138
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Altar, Moisa & Necula, Ciprian & Bobeica, Gabriel, 2010. "Estimating The Cyclically Adjusted Budget Balance For The Romanian Economy. A Robust Approach," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 0(2), pages 79-99, July.
    3. Quast, Josefine & Wolters, Maik H., 2019. "Reliable real-time output gap estimates based on a modified Hamilton filter," IMFS Working Paper Series 133, Goethe University Frankfurt, Institute for Monetary and Financial Stability (IMFS).
    4. Ley, Eduardo & Misch, Florian, 2013. "Real-time macro monitoring and fiscal policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6303, The World Bank.
    5. Susanne Maidorn, 2018. "Is there a trade-off between procyclicality and revisions in EC trend TFP estimations?," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 45(1), pages 59-82, February.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    potential output; cyclical adjustment; EU budgetary surveillance; Stability and Growth Pact; Excessive Deficit Procedure; safety margin; minimum benchmark; fiscal surveillance indicators;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt

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