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The performativity of potential output: pro-cyclicality and path dependency in coordinating European fiscal policies

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  • Philipp Heimberger
  • Jakob Kapeller

Abstract

This paper analyzes the performative impact of the European Commission's model for estimating ‘potential output’, which is used as a yardstick for measuring the ‘structural budget balance’ of EU countries and, hence, is crucial for coordinating European fiscal policies. In pre-crisis years, potential output estimates promoted the build-up of private debt, housing bubbles and macroeconomic imbalances. After the financial crisis, these model estimates were revised downwards, which increased fiscal consolidation pressures. By focusing on the euro area's economies during 1999–2014, we show how the model's estimates influence actual economic outcomes. We identify two major economic impacts of the potential output model. First, the political implications of the model led to pro-cyclical feedback loops, reinforcing prevailing economic developments. Second, the model has contributed to national lock-ins on path dependent debt trajectories, fueling ‘structural polarization’ between core and periphery countries.

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  • Philipp Heimberger & Jakob Kapeller, 2017. "The performativity of potential output: pro-cyclicality and path dependency in coordinating European fiscal policies," Review of International Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(5), pages 904-928, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rripxx:v:24:y:2017:i:5:p:904-928
    DOI: 10.1080/09692290.2017.1363797
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    Cited by:

    1. Claudius Gräbner & Philipp Heimberger & Jakob Kapeller & Bernhard Schütz, 2017. "Is Europe disintegrating? Macroeconomic divergence, structural polarization, trade and fragility," Economics working papers 2017-15, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    2. repec:clr:wugarc:y:2016v:42i:03p:451 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Braun, Benjamin & Hübner, Marina, 2017. "Fiscal fault, financial fix? Capital Markets Union and the quest for macroeconomic stabilization in the euro area," MPIfG Discussion Paper 17/21, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    4. Philipp Heimberger, 2018. "The Dynamic Effects of Fiscal Consolidation Episodes on Income Inequality," wiiw Working Papers 147, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
    5. repec:clr:wugarc:y:2016v:42i:3p:451 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • 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
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration

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