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The cyclical response of fiscal policies in the euro area. Why do results of empirical research differ so strongly?

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  • Roberto Golinelli

    () (University of Bologna, Department of Economics)

  • Sandro Momigliano

    () (Bank of Italy, Department for Structural Economic Analysis)

Abstract

Whether discretionary fiscal policies in industrialized countries act counter- or pro-cyclically and whether their reaction is symmetric or asymmetric over the cycle are still largely unsettled questions. This uncertainty remains even when attention is restricted to euro-area countries, where these questions have important implications for the debate on European fiscal rules. We review the recent empirical literature to explain why the results of the various studies differ so greatly. We find that differences are driven partly by the choices made in modelling fiscal behaviour and in the related notions of fiscal policy cyclicality. Results are also affected by data source and vintage (ex post or real-time). The time period chosen is relatively less important. We conclude that the notion of pro-cyclical fiscal policies often upheld in the debate is not justified by the data. Ex post data suggest either a-cyclicality or weak counter-cyclicality. Real-time information gives clearer indications of counter-cyclical behaviour, especially when we progress from a very simple �core� model to a more complex one, including at least the impact of fiscal rules. As for symmetry or asymmetry, the answer varies with sources of data and time periods. With the more complex model the indications of asymmetric behaviour are more robust. Whenever asymmetry is present, it entails shifts in all the parameters of the fiscal rule and not necessarily in the output gap parameter.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Golinelli & Sandro Momigliano, 2008. "The cyclical response of fiscal policies in the euro area. Why do results of empirical research differ so strongly?," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 654, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_654_08
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    Cited by:

    1. Aleksander Aristovnik & Matevž Meze, 2017. "The impact of supranational fiscal rules on public finance: the case of EMU member states," Global Business and Economics Review, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 19(1), pages 38-53.
    2. Luca Agnello & Jacopo Cimadomo, 2012. "Discretionary Fiscal Policies over the Cycle: New Evidence Based on the ESCB Disaggregated Approach," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 8(2), pages 43-85, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Dumitru, Ionut & Stanca, Razvan, 2010. "Fiscal discipline and economic growth – the case of Romania," MPRA Paper 27300, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. António AFONSO & Priscilla TOFFANO, 2013. "Fiscal regimes in the EU," Working Papers Department of Economics ces13.06, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
    6. Francesco Caprioli & Sandro Momigliano, 2011. "The effects of fiscal shocks with debt-stabilizing budgetary policies in Italy," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 839, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    7. Roel Beetsma & Massimo Giuliodori, 2010. "Fiscal adjustment to cyclical developments in the OECD: an empirical analysis based on real-time data," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(3), pages 419-441, July.
    8. Muscatelli, Vito A. & Natale, Piergiovanna & Tirelli, Patrizio, 2012. "A simple and flexible alternative to Stability and Growth Pact deficit ceilings. Is it at hand?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 14-26.
    9. Beetsma, Roel & Giuliodori, Massimo & Wierts, Peter, 2009. "Budgeting versus implementing fiscal policy in the EU," CEPR Discussion Papers 7285, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Avellan, Leopoldo & Vuletin, Guillermo, 2015. "Fiscal procyclicality and output forecast errors," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 193-204.
    11. Álvaro M. Pina, 2009. "Elusive Counter-Cyclicality and Deliberate Opportunism? Fiscal Policy from Plans to Final Outcomes," Working Papers w200906, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    12. Mencinger, Jernej & Aristovnik, Aleksander, 2013. "Fiscal Policy Stance in the European Union: The Impact of the Euro," MPRA Paper 44708, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Bernardi, Luigi, 2009. "Quali percorsi per la finanza pubblica italiana? Primi elementi di discussione
      [Perspective developments of public finance in Italy: a primer]
      ," MPRA Paper 17578, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Andrew Hughes Hallett & Rasmus Kattai & John Lewis, 2009. "Can we rely on real time figures for cyclically adjusted budget balances?," Bank of Estonia Working Papers 2009-2, Bank of Estonia, revised 20 Oct 2009.
    15. Vito Tanzi, 2011. "The Return to Fiscal Rectitude After the Recent Escapade," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 3, pages 253-277, JULY-SEPT.
    16. António Afonso & João Tovar Jalles, 2017. "Sovereign Debt Effects and Composition: Evidence from Time-Varying Estimates," Working Papers Department of Economics 2017/03, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    17. Alessandro Turrini, 2008. "Fiscal policy and the cycle in the Euro Area: The role of government revenue and expenditure," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 323, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    18. Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Žďárek, Václav, 2017. "Fiscal reaction function and fiscal fatigue: evidence for the euro area," Working Paper Series 2036, European Central Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal policy; euro-area countries; fiscal rules; pro and counter-cyclical policies; policy symmetry over the cycle; ex post and real-time data; dynamic panel models.;

    JEL classification:

    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General

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