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Are Budget Deficits Used Strategically?

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  • Luisa Lambertini

    () (Boston College)

Abstract

This paper tests empirically the strategic explanation of budget deficits suggested by Tabellini and Alesina and Persson and Svensson. Tabellini and Alesina suggest that governments with di erent political orientation provide different public goods. The model predicts that: a) public good provision follows a political pattern; b) the incumbent that anticipates her defeat at the next election runs budget deficits to tie the hands of the future government. Persson and Svensson suggest that liberal governments prefer more public good provision than conservative ones. The model predicts that: a) the conservative (liberal) incumbent that anticipates her defeat at the next election runs budget deficits (surpluses); b) budget imbalances have a political color. Using U.S. and pooled data for sixteen OECD countries, we find little evidence that the incumbent's probability of being voted out of office explains budget deficits, that the provision of public goods follows a political pattern or that budget imbalances have a political color.

Suggested Citation

  • Luisa Lambertini, 2003. "Are Budget Deficits Used Strategically?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 578, Boston College Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:578
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Natvik, Gisle J., 2013. "The political economy of fiscal deficits and government production," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 81-94.
    2. Ricardo Nunes & Davide Debortoli, 2007. "Political Disagreement, Lack of Commitment and the Level of Debt," 2007 Meeting Papers 725, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Marcela Eslava, 2006. "The Political Economy of Fiscal Policy: Survey," Research Department Publications 4487, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    4. Jon Fiva & Gisle Natvik, 2013. "Do re-election probabilities influence public investment?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 305-331, October.
    5. Niklas Potrafke & Marina Riem & Christoph Schinke, 2016. "Debt Brakes in the German States: Governments’ Rhetoric and Actions," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 17(2), pages 253-275, May.
    6. Jerome Creel & Etienne Farvaque, 2009. "The political economy of balanced-budget rules," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2009-06, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    7. John Ashworth & Benny Geys & Bruno Heyndels, 2005. "Government Weakness and Local Public Debt Development in Flemish Municipalities," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 12(4), pages 395-422, August.
    8. Per Pettersson, 2000. "An Empirical Investigation of the Strategic Use of Debt," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1372, Econometric Society.
    9. Zheng Song & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2012. "Rotten Parents and Disciplined Children: A Politico‐Economic Theory of Public Expenditure and Debt," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(6), pages 2785-2803, November.
    10. Alberto Alesina & Andrea Passalacqua, 2015. "The Political Economy of Government Debt," NBER Working Papers 21821, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Fabrizio Carmignani, 2000. "Political Bias in Fiscal Policy Formation: an Econometric Analysis of Coalition Systems," Working Papers 28, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2000.
    12. Dominik Hecker & Dano Meiske & Niklas Potrafke & Marina Riem & Christoph Schinke, 2016. "Schuldenbremsen in den deutschen Bundesländern: Worte und Taten der Landesregierungen," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 69(02), pages 14-22, January.
    13. Alt, James E. & Lassen, David Dreyer, 2006. "Fiscal transparency, political parties, and debt in OECD countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1403-1439, August.
    14. Pettersson, Per, 1999. "An Empirical Investigation of the Strategic Use of Debt," Working Paper Series 1999:4, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    15. Heiner Felix Mikosch & Silke Übelmesser, 2007. "Staatsverschuldungsunterschiede im internationalen Vergleich und Schlussfolgerungen für Deutschland," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 8(4), pages 309-334, November.
    16. Maria Manuel Pinho, 2004. "Political models of budget deficits: a literature review," FEP Working Papers 138, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    17. Ari Aisen, 2004. "Money-Based Versus Exchange-Rate-Based Stabilization; Is There Space for Political Opportunism?," IMF Working Papers 04/94, International Monetary Fund.
    18. Maria Manuel Pinho, 2008. "The political economy of public spending composition: evidence from a panel of OECD countries," FEP Working Papers 295, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    19. Krogstrup, Signe & Wyplosz, Charles, 2006. "A Common Pool Theory of Deficit Bias Correction," CEPR Discussion Papers 5866, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    20. Krogstrup, Signe & Wyplosz, Charles, 2010. "A common pool theory of supranational deficit ceilings," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 269-278, February.
    21. Robert J. Franzese, 2000. "Political cycles and the macroeconomy," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(3), pages 501-509.
    22. Goeminne Stijn & Smolders Carine, 2010. "Strategic Use of Debt in Flemish Municipalities," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-31, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Budget deficit; Voting; Elections;

    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
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus

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