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Fiscal data revisions in Europe

Author

Listed:
  • Francisco de Castro

    () (Banco de España)

  • Javier J. Pérez

    () (Banco de España)

  • Marta Rodríguez Vives

    () (European Central Bank)

Abstract

Public deficit figures are subject to revisions, as most macroeconomic aggregates are. Nevertheless, in the case of Europe, the latter could be particularly worrisome given the role of fiscal data in the functioning of EU’s multilateral surveillance rules. Adherence to such rules is judged upon initial releases of data, in the framework of the so-called Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) Notifications. In addition, the lack of reliability of fiscal data may hinder the credibility of fiscal consolidation plans. In this paper we document the empirical properties of revisions to annual government deficit figures in Europe by exploiting the information contained in a pool of real-time vintages of data pertaining to fifteen EU countries over the period 1995-2008. We build up such real-time dataset from official publications. Our main findings are as follows: (i) preliminary deficit data releases are biased and non-efficient predictors of subsequent releases, with later vintages of data tending to show larger deficits on average; (ii) such systematic bias in deficit revisions is a general feature of the sample, and cannot solely be attributed to the behaviour of a small number of countries, even though the Greek case is clearly an outlier; (iii) Methodological improvements and clarifications stemming from Eurostat’s decisions that may lead to data revisions explain a significant share of the bias, providing some evidence of window dressing on the side of individual countries; (iv) expected real GDP growth, political cycles and the strength of fiscal rules also contribute to explain revision patterns; (v) nevertheless, if the systematic bias is excluded, revisions can be considered rational after two years.

Suggested Citation

  • Francisco de Castro & Javier J. Pérez & Marta Rodríguez Vives, 2011. "Fiscal data revisions in Europe," Working Papers 1106, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
  • Handle: RePEc:bde:wpaper:1106
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Merola, Rossana & Pérez, Javier J., 2013. "Fiscal forecast errors: Governments versus independent agencies?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 285-299.
    2. Jacopo Cimadomo, 2016. "Real-Time Data And Fiscal Policy Analysis: A Survey Of The Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(2), pages 302-326, April.
    3. Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (ed.), 2013. "Gegen eine rückwärtsgewandte Wirtschaftspolitik. Jahresgutachten 2013/14," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201314.
    4. Beetsma, Roel & Giuliodori, Massimo & Walschot, Mark & Wierts, Peter, 2013. "Fifty years of fiscal planning and implementation in the Netherlands," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 119-138.
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    16. Joao Tovar Jalles, 2015. "How Quickly is News Incorporated in Fiscal Forecasts?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 35(4), pages 2802-2812.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    data revisions; real-time data; news and noise; fiscal statistics; rationality;

    JEL classification:

    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General

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