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Do EU Fiscal Rules Support or Hinder Counter-Cyclical Fiscal Policy?

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  • Martin Larch
  • Eloïse Orseau
  • Wouter van der Wielen

Abstract

Rather than stabilising aggregate demand, discretionary fiscal policy tends to amplify cyclical fluctuations of output. The commonly accepted reasons are political economy and uncertainty. In the EU, the pro-cyclical nature of discretionary fiscal policy has also been associated with the commonly agreed fiscal rules, which, for some observers, unduly limit the scope for stabilising output. Using panel data covering close to 40 EU and non-EU countries, we provide evidence that the volatility of output gap estimates is not a convincing explanation for pro-cyclical policies. With the exception of very large shocks, discretionary measures remain ill-timed from a stabilisation perspective even when observable and politically more meaningful indicators of the cycle are used. We also show that deviations from fiscal rules and the accumulation of government debt foster pro-cyclical fiscal policy. Lawmakers can run discretionary fiscal policy measures based on political economy considerations up to a point. Once debt grows too high, the leeway to stabilise output with discretionary fiscal policy measures fades. Complying with fiscal rules that limit the increase in government debt or keep a steady course in the face of cyclical fluctuation is conducive to counter-cyclical fiscal policy making.

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  • Martin Larch & Eloïse Orseau & Wouter van der Wielen, 2020. "Do EU Fiscal Rules Support or Hinder Counter-Cyclical Fiscal Policy?," CESifo Working Paper Series 8659, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_8659
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    Cited by:

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    2. Carlos Fonseca Marinheiro, 2021. "The Expenditure Benchmark: Complex and Unsuitable for Independent Fiscal Institutions," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 63(3), pages 411-431, September.
    3. Aldama, Pierre & Creel, Jérôme, 2022. "Real-time fiscal policy responses in the OECD from 1997 to 2018: Procyclical but sustainable?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 73(C).
    4. Kuusi, Tero & Puonti, Päivi, 2021. "Keep It Simple, Not Stupid – How to Save the EU Fiscal Framework?," ETLA Reports 120, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    5. Kea BARET, 2021. "Fiscal rules’ compliance and Social Welfare," Working Papers of BETA 2021-38, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    6. Mario Alloza & Javier Andrés & Pablo Burriel & Iván Kataryniuk & Javier J. Pérez & Juan Luis Vega, 2021. "La reforma del marco de gobernanza de la política fiscal de la Unión Europea en un nuevo entorno macroeconómico," Occasional Papers 2121, Banco de España.
    7. Philipp Mohl & Gilles Mourre & Sven Langedijk & Martijn Hoogeland, 2021. "Does Media Visibility Make EU Fiscal Rules More Effective?," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 155, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    8. António Afonso & Francisco Tiago Carvalho, 2021. "Euro area time-varying cyclicality of fiscal policy," Working Papers REM 2021/0202, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, REM, Universidade de Lisboa.
    9. Melisso Boschi & Alessandro Girardi & Marco Ventura, 2022. "The relative effectiveness of EU national and supranational fiscal rules," Working Papers in Public Economics 222, University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Economics and Law.
    10. Mario Alloza & Javier Andrés & Pablo Burriel & Iván Kataryniuk & Javier J. Pérez & Juan Luis Vega, 2021. "The reform of the european Union’s fiscal governance Framework in a new Macroeconomic environment," Occasional Papers 2121, Banco de España.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal policy; fiscal rules; fiscal stabilisation; counter-cyclical policy; dynamic panel models.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • 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
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus

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