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Public Investment, Economic Performance and Budgetary Consolidation: VAR Evidence for the 12 Euro Countries

  • Alfredo M. Pereira


    (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary)

  • Maria de F�tima Pinho


    (Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administra��o)

In a period of heightened concern about fiscal consolidation in the euro area a politically expedient way of controlling the public budget is to cut public investment. A critical question, however, is whether or not political expediency comes at a cost, in terms of both long-term economic performance and future budgetary contention efforts. First, common wisdom suggests that public investments have positive effects on economic performance although the empirical evidence is less clear. Second, it is conceivable that public investment has such strong effects on output, that over time it generates enough additional tax revenues to pay for itself. Obviously, it is equally plausible that the effects on output although positive are not strong enough for the public investment to pay for itself. In this paper we investigate these issues empirically for the twelve countries in the euro area using a vector auto-regressive approach. We conclude that the euro countries can be gathered in four groups according to the nature of the economic and budgetary impact of public investment. The first group includes Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Netherlands, where the economic effects are either negative or positive but very small and, therefore, cuts will be harmless for the economy and effective from a budgetary perspective. The second group includes Finland, Portugal, and Spain, where public investment does not pay for itself and, therefore, cuts are an effective tool of budgetary consolidation although they are harmful for the economy. The third group includes France, Greece, and Ireland where public investment just pays for itself and therefore cuts are not an effective way of achieving long-term budgetary consolidation and are harmful for the economy. Finally, the fourth group includes Germany and Italy, where public investment more than pays for itself and, therefore, cuts are not only harmful for the economy but also counterproductive from a budgetary perspective.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, College of William and Mary in its series Working Papers with number 40.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 23 Aug 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwm:wpaper:40
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  1. Alesina, Alberto F & Ardagna, Silvia & Perotti, Roberto & Schiantarelli, Fabio, 1999. "Fiscal Policy, Profits and Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers 2250, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  5. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 1999. "An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output," NBER Working Papers 7269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles L., 1999. "Monetary policy shocks: What have we learned and to what end?," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 65-148 Elsevier.
  10. Alfredo M. Pereira, 2000. "Is All Public Capital Created Equal?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 513-518, August.
  11. Perron, Pierre, 1989. "The Great Crash, the Oil Price Shock, and the Unit Root Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1361-1401, November.
  12. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles Evans, 1994. "The effects of monetary policy shocks: evidence from the flow of funds," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Apr.
  13. Christophe Kamps, 2005. "The Dynamic Effects of Public Capital: VAR Evidence for 22 OECD Countries," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 533-558, August.
  14. Alfredo M. Pereira & Jorge M. Andraz, 2005. "Public Investment in Transportation Infrastructure and Economic Performance in Portugal," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(2), pages 177-196, 05.
  15. Gregory, Allan W. & Nason, James M. & Watt, David G., 1996. "Testing for structural breaks in cointegrated relationships," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1-2), pages 321-341.
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