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Fiscal Policy as a Stabilization Tool

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  • Fatás, Antonio
  • Mihov, Ilian

Abstract

We analyze empirically the cyclical behavior of fiscal policy among a group of 23 OECD countries. We introduce a framework to capture fiscal policy stance in a way that brings together automatic stabilizers and discretionary fiscal policy. We show that, for most countries, automatic changes in the budget balance play a stronger role in stabilizing output than discretionary fiscal policy. When compared across countries, changes in fiscal policy stance are predominantly linked to differences in government size. Tax revenues are close to being proportional to GDP and, combined with a relatively stable government spending, this leads to a countercyclical budget balance, which in turn helps stabilize aggregate demand. Furthermore, countries with less responsive automatic stabilizers, like the United States, tend to use countercyclical discretionary fiscal policy more aggressively. For all countries discretionary policy has become more aggressive in recent decades.

Suggested Citation

  • Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2012. "Fiscal Policy as a Stabilization Tool," CEPR Discussion Papers 8749, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8749
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:7:p:1904-37 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Gerdie Everaert, 2017. "On the estimation of panel fiscal reaction functions : Heterogeneity or fiscal fatigue?," Working Paper Research 320, National Bank of Belgium.
    3. Plödt, Martin & Reicher, Claire A., 2015. "Estimating fiscal policy reaction functions: The role of model specification," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 113-128.
    4. Reicher, Claire, 2014. "Systematic fiscal policy and macroeconomic performance: A critical overview of the literature," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 8, pages 1-37.
    5. Reicher, Christopher Phillip, 2013. "A set of estimated fiscal rules for a cross section of countries: Stabilization and consolidation through which instruments?," Kiel Working Papers 1850, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    6. Brückner, Markus & Gradstein, Mark, 2013. "Exogenous volatility and the size of government in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 254-266.
    7. Philippe Martin & Thomas Philippon, 2017. "Inspecting the Mechanism: Leverage and the Great Recession in the Eurozone," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(7), pages 1904-1937, July.
    8. Alessio Anzuini & Luca Rossi & Pietro Tommasino, 2017. "Fiscal policy uncertainty and the business cycle: time series evidence from Italy," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1151, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    9. Alisdair McKay & Ricardo Reis, 2016. "The Role of Automatic Stabilizers in the U.S. Business Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 141-194, January.
    10. Liu, Kai & Poplawski-Ribeiro, Marcos, 2015. "Short- and Long-Run Fiscal Elasticities: International Evidence," MPRA Paper 65950, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Reicher, Claire, 2014. "A set of estimated fiscal rules for a cross-section of countries: Stabilization and consolidation through which instruments?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 184-198.
    12. KLEIN, Mathias & WINKLER, Roland, 2018. "The government spending multiplier at the zero lower bound: International evidence from historical data," Working Papers 2018001, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
    13. Riaz, Nimra & Munir, Kashif, 2016. "Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Stability in South Asian Countries," MPRA Paper 74247, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business Cycles; Fiscal Policy; Stabilization;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

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