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The Euro and Fiscal Policy

In: Europe and the Euro

  • Antonio Fatás
  • Ilian Mihov

The paper provides and empirical characterization of fiscal policy in the euro area and in a group of twenty-two OECD economies over the period from 1970 until 2007. Using the cyclically-adjusted fiscal balance we document that policy in the euro area has been mildly pro-cyclical. The adoption of the common currency and the constraints imposed by the Stability and Growth Pact have not had a large impact on the cyclical behavior of the structural balance. In contrast, over the past ten years US fiscal policy has become highly countercyclical, which was due predominantly to discretionary changes in tax policies. However, the component of the budget due to automatic stabilizers reacts stronger in the euro-area countries than in the US. We also document the primary balance in the OECD economies is more sensitive to output growth rather than to the output gap, which calls into question the common practice of adjusting structural balances by using elasticities with respect to the output gap.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Alberto Alesina & Francesco Giavazzi, 2010. "Europe and the Euro," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ales08-1, May.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11656.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11656
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Elmendorf, Douglas W. & Gregory Mankiw, N., 1999. "Government debt," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 25, pages 1615-1669 Elsevier.
    2. Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2002. "The Case for Restricting Fiscal Policy Discretion," CEPR Discussion Papers 3277, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Carlo Favero & Francesco Giavazzi, 2007. "Debt and the Effects of Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 12822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. V.V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimal fiscal policy in a business cycle model," Staff Report 160, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    5. Reinhart, Carmen & Kaminsky, Graciela & Vegh, Carlos, 2004. "When it rains, it pours: Procyclical capital flows and macroeconomic policies," MPRA Paper 13883, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Phillip Arestis & Michelle Baddeley & John S.L. McCombie (ed.), 2007. "Economic Growth," Books, Edward Elgar, number 3958.
    7. Jordi Gali & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Integration in Europe," NBER Working Papers 9773, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Jacques Melitz, 2005. "Non-Discretionary and Automatic Fiscal Policy in the EU and the OECD," Working Papers 2005-10, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
    9. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
    10. Xavier Debrun & Jean Pisani-Ferry & Andr� Sapir, 2008. "Government size and output volatility: should we forsake automatic stabilization?," European Economy - Economic Papers 316, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    11. Alberto Alesina & Tamim Bayoumi, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Fiscal Rules: Evidence from U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 5614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Buiter, Willem H. & Grafe, Clemens, 2002. "Patching up the Pact: some Suggestions for Enhancing Fiscal Sustainability and Macroeconomic Stability in an Enlarged European Union," CEPR Discussion Papers 3496, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Alan J. Auerbach & Daniel Feenberg, 2000. "The Significance of Federal Taxes as Automatic Stabilizers," NBER Working Papers 7662, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt," Scholarly Articles 3612769, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    15. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Jonas D.M. Fisher, 1999. "Assessing the effects of fiscal shocks," Working Paper Series WP-99-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    16. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes: What are the Stylized Facts?," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 412, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    17. Nathalie Girouard & Christophe André, 2005. "Measuring Cyclically-adjusted Budget Balances for OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 434, OECD Publishing.
    18. James M. Poterba & Jürgen von Hagen, 1999. "Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pote99-1, May.
    19. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 1999. "An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output," NBER Working Papers 7269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. André Sapir & Marco Buti, 1998. "Economic policy in EMU," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/8078, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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