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Cyclical asymmetry in fiscal variables

  • Fabrizio Balassone

    ()

    (Bank of Italy, Economic Research Department)

  • Maura Francese

    ()

    (Bank of Italy, Economic Research Department)

  • Stefania Zotteri

    ()

    (Bank of Italy, Economic Research Department)

In a stylised framework of fiscal policy determination that considers both structural targets and cyclical factors, we find significant cyclical asymmetry in the behaviour of fiscal variables in a sample of fourteen EU countries from 1970 to 2004, with budgetary balances (both overall and primary) deteriorating in contractions but not improving correspondingly in expansions. Analysis of budget components reveals that the asymmetry is due to expenditure, in particular transfers in cash. We find no evidence that the fiscal rules introduced in 1992 with the Treaty of Maastricht affected the cyclical behaviour of the variables examined. Numerical simulations show that cyclical asymmetry inflated average deficit levels, contributing significantly to the accumulation of debt.

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Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) with number 671.

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Date of creation: Jun 2008
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Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_671_08
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  1. Fabrizio Balassone & Daniele Franco & Stefania Zotteri, 2007. "Rainy day funds: can they make a difference in Europe," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 11, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  2. Lichtenberg, Frank R & Griliches, Zvi, 1989. "Errors of Measurement in Output Deflators," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 7(1), pages 1-9, January.
  3. Michael Artis & Massimiliano Marcellino, . "Fiscal Solvency and Fiscal Forecasting in Europe," Working Papers 142, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  4. 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.
  5. Fabrizio BALASSONE & Maura FRANCESE, . "Cyclical Asymmetry in Fiscal Policy, Debt Accumulation and the Treaty of Maastricht," EcoMod2004 330600014, EcoMod.
  6. Stephan Danninger & Annette Kyobe & M. Cangiano, 2005. "The Political Economy of Revenue-Forecasting Experience From Low-Income Countries," IMF Working Papers 05/2, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Alesina, Alberto, 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-party System as a Repeated Game," Scholarly Articles 4552531, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Bouthevillain, Carine & Cour-Thimann, Philippine & van de Dool, Gerrit & Hernández de Cos, Pablo & Langenus, Geert & Mohr, Matthias & Momigliano, Sandro & Tujula, Mika, 2001. "Cyclically adjusted budget balances: an alternative approach," Working Paper Series 0077, European Central Bank.
  9. Buti, Marco & Franco, Daniele & Ongena, Hedwig, 1998. "Fiscal Discipline and Flexibility in EMU: The Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(3), pages 81-97, Autumn.
  10. Athanasios Orphanides, 1998. "Monetary policy rules based on real-time data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-03, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Zvi Hercowitz & Michel Strawczynski, 2004. "Cyclical Ratcheting in Government Spending: Evidence from the OECD," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 353-361, February.
  12. Golinelli, Roberto & Momigliano, Sandro, 2006. "Real-time determinants of fiscal policies in the euro area," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 28(9), pages 943-964, December.
  13. Michael Gavin & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Policy in Latin America," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 11-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. André Sapir & Marco Buti, 1998. "Economic policy in EMU," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/8078, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  15. Levinson, Arik, 1998. "Balanced Budgets and Business Cycles: Evidence from the States," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 4), pages 715-32, December.
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