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The Macroeconomic Effects of Fiscal Rules in the US States

  • Fatás, Antonio
  • Mihov, Ilian

Fiscal policy restrictions are often criticized for limiting the ability of governments to react to business cycle fluctuations. Therefore, the adoption of quantitative restrictions is viewed as inevitably leading to increased macroeconomic volatility. In this Paper we use data from 48 US states to investigate how budget rules affect fiscal policy outcomes. Our key findings are that (1) strict budgetary restrictions lead to lower policy volatility (i.e. less discretion in conducting fiscal policy); and (2) fiscal restrictions reduce the responsiveness of fiscal policy to output shocks and decrease the persistence of spending fluctuations. These two results should have opposite effects on output volatility. While less discretion should reduce volatility, less responsiveness of fiscal policy might amplify business cycle volatility. Our analysis shows that the first effect dominates and that restrictions on fiscal policy lead to less volatility in output.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4372.

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Date of creation: Apr 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4372
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  1. Perotti, Roberto & Kontopoulos, Yianos, 2002. "Fragmented fiscal policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 191-222, November.
  2. von Hagen, Jurgen, 1991. "A note on the empirical effectiveness of formal fiscal restraints," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 199-210, March.
  3. Andrew Mountford & Harald Uhlig, 2005. "What are the Effects of Fiscal Policy Shocks?," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2005-039, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  4. Tim Besley, 2002. "Political institutions and policy choices: evidence from the United States," IFS Working Papers W02/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Jakob de Haan & Wim Moessen & Bjom Volkerink, 1999. "Budgetary Procedures-Aspects and Changes: New Evidence for Some European Countries," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 265-300 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Mark Hallerberg & Jürgen von Hagen, 1999. "Electoral Institutions, Cabinet Negotiations, and Budget Deficits in the European Union," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 209-232 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Poterba, James M, 1994. "State Responses to Fiscal Crises: The Effects of Budgetary Institutions and Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 799-821, August.
  10. repec:dgr:kubcen:200231 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 2001. "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes: What are the Stylized Facts?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2872, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti & Roberto Perotti & Massimo Rostagno, 2002. "Electoral Systems And Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(2), pages 609-657, May.
  13. Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2002. "The Case for Restricting Fiscal Policy Discretion," CEPR Discussion Papers 3277, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 2002. "An Empirical Characterization Of The Dynamic Effects Of Changes In Government Spending And Taxes On Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1329-1368, November.
  15. Alberto Alesina & Tamim Bayoumi, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Fiscal Rules: Evidence from U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 5614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. Barry Eichengreen & Ricardo Hausmann & Jürgen Von Hagen, 1999. "Reforming Budgetary Institutions in Latin America: The Case for a National Fiscal Council," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 415-442, October.
  18. Poterba, James M., 1995. "Balanced Budget Rules and Fiscal Policy: Evidence From the States," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(3), pages 329-36, September.
  19. Henning Bohn & Robert P. Inman, 1996. "Balanced Budget Rules and Public Deficits: Evidence from the U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 5533, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Fatas, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2001. "Government size and automatic stabilizers: international and intranational evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 3-28, October.
  21. Gonzalez, Christian Y. & Paqueo, Vicente B., 2003. "Social sector expenditures and rainy-day funds," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3131, The World Bank.
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