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Early warning or just wise after the event? The problem of using cyclically adjusted budget deficits for fiscal surveillance

  • Andrew Hughes Hallett


  • Rasmus Kattai


  • John Lewis


The effectiveness of cyclically adjusted balances (CABs) as an indicator of the health of public finances depends on the accuracy with which cyclically adjusted figures can be calculated in real time. This paper measures the accuracy of such figures using a specially constructed real time dataset containing published values of deficits, output gaps and cyclically adjusted deficits from successive issues of OECD economic outlook. We find that data revisions are so great that real-time CABs have low power in detecting fiscal slippages as defined by the ex post data.

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Paper provided by Bank of Estonia in its series Bank of Estonia Working Papers with number 2007-02.

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Date of creation: 09 Feb 2007
Date of revision: 09 Feb 2007
Handle: RePEc:eea:boewps:wp2007-02
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  1. Marco Buti & Sylvester Eijffinger & Daniele Franco, 2003. "Revisiting the Stability and Growth Pact: grand design or internal adjustment?," European Economy - Economic Papers 180, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  2. J. de Haan & H. Berger & D. Jansen, 2003. "The end of the stability and growth pact?," WO Research Memoranda (discontinued) 748, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  3. Francesco Giavazzi & Tullio Jappelli & Marco Pagano, 2000. "Searching for Non-Linear Effects of Fiscal Policy: Evidence from Industrial and Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 7460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. de Haan, Jakob & Berger, Helge & Jansen, David-Jan, 2003. "The end of stability and growth pact?," Discussion Papers 2003/16, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  5. St-Amant, P. & van Norden, S., 1997. "Measurement of the Output Gap: A Discussion of Recent Research at the Bank of Canada," Technical Reports 79, Bank of Canada.
  6. Giuliodori, Massimo & Beetsma, Roel, 2008. "On the relationship between fiscal plans in the European Union: An empirical analysis based on real-time data," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 221-242, June.
  7. Athanasios Orphanides, 1998. "Monetary policy rules based on real-time data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-03, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Alain GUAY & Pierre SAINT-AMANT, 2005. "Do the Hodrick-Prescott and Baxter-King Filters Provide a Good Approximation of Business Cycles?," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 77, pages 133-155.
  9. Forni, Lorenzo & Momigliano, Sandro, 2004. "Cyclical sensitivity of fiscal policies based on real-time data," MPRA Paper 4315, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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