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Measuring Fiscal Sustainability

Author

Listed:
  • Polito, Vito
  • Wickens, Michael R.

Abstract

We propose an index of the fiscal stance that is convenient for practical use. It is based on a finite time horizon, not on an infinite time horizon like most tests. As it employs VAR analysis it is simple to compute and easily automated. We also show how it is possible to analyse a change of policy within a VAR framework. We use this methodology to examine the effect on fiscal sustainability of a change in policy. We then conduct an empirical examination of the fiscal stances of the US, the UK and Germany over the last 25 or more years, and we carry out a counter-factual analysis of the likely consequences for fiscal sustainability of using a Taylor rule to set monetary policy over this period. Among our findings are that the recent fiscal stances of all three countries are not sustainable, and that using a Taylor rule in the past would have improved the fiscal stances of the US and UK, but not that of Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • Polito, Vito & Wickens, Michael R., 2005. "Measuring Fiscal Sustainability," CEPR Discussion Papers 5312, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5312
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Henning Bohn, "undated". "Budget Balance Through Revenue or Spending Adjustments ? Some Historical Evidence for the United States (Reprint 013)," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 03-91, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
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    3. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior of U. S. Public Debt and Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963.
    4. Wilcox, David W, 1989. "The Sustainability of Government Deficits: Implications of the Present-Value Borrowing Constraint," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 21(3), pages 291-306, August.
    5. Babbel, D.F. & Eisenberg, L.K., 1991. "Quantity-adjusting Options and Forward Contracts," Weiss Center Working Papers 24-91, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research.
    6. Trehan, Bharat & Walsh, Carl E, 1991. "Testing Intertemporal Budget Constraints: Theory and Applications to U.S. Federal Budget and Current Account Deficits," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(2), pages 206-223, May.
    7. Trehan, Bharat & Walsh, Carl E., 1988. "Common trends, the government's budget constraint, and revenue smoothing," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 12(2-3), pages 425-444.
    8. Henning Bohn, 2005. "The Sustainability of Fiscal Policy in the United States," CESifo Working Paper Series 1446, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Hamilton, James D & Flavin, Marjorie A, 1986. "On the Limitations of Government Borrowing: A Framework for EmpiricalTesting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 808-819.
    10. Hakkio, Craig S & Rush, Mark, 1991. "Is the Budget Deficit "Too Large?"," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(3), pages 429-445, July.
    11. Bohn, Henning, 1992. "Budget deficits and government accounting," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, pages 1-83.
    12. Uctum, Merih & Wickens, Michael, 2000. " Debt and Deficit Ceilings, and Sustainability of Fiscal Policies: An Intertemporal Analysis," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, pages 197-222.
    13. Hamilton, James D & Flavin, Marjorie A, 1986. "On the Limitations of Government Borrowing: A Framework for EmpiricalTesting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 808-819.
    14. Bohn, Henning, 1991. "Budget balance through revenue or spending adjustments? : Some historical evidence for the United States," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, pages 333-359.
    15. Bohn, Henning, 1995. "The Sustainability of Budget Deficits in a Stochastic Economy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 257-271, February.
    16. Wickens, M. R. & Uctum, Merih, 1993. "The sustainability of current account deficits : A test of the US intertemporal budget constraint," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 423-441, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Sinclair, 2011. "Deficits, Debts and Defaults - Past, Present and Future," Discussion Papers 11-20, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    2. Hasko, Harri, 2007. "Some unpleasant fiscal arithmetic : the role of monetary and fiscal policy in public debt dynamics since the 1970s," Research Discussion Papers 28/2007, Bank of Finland.
    3. Angela I. Uwakwe, 2008. "Public Debt Management & Fiscal Sustainability in Italy," AIUB Bus Econ Working Paper Series AIUB-BUS-ECON-2008-20, American International University-Bangladesh (AIUB), Office of Research and Publications (ORP), revised Jun 2008.
    4. Afonso, António & Toffano, Priscilla, 2013. "Fiscal regimes in the EU," Working Paper Series 1529, European Central Bank.
    5. Zaman, Constantin, 2011. "Assessing the Sustainability of Public Finances in Romania," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, pages 106-115.
    6. Valentinyi, Ákos & Pápa, Levente, 2008. "Költségvetési fenntarthatóság
      [Budget sustainability]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(5), pages 395-426.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    budget deficits; economic policy; fiscal sustainability; government debt; VAR analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy

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