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Can we rely on real time figures for cyclically adjusted budget balances?

  • Andrew Hughes Hallett

    ()

  • Rasmus Kattai

    ()

  • John Lewis

    ()

This paper analyses the reliability of real time estimates of cyclically adjust budget balances (CABs). We find that real time CABs are not better at forecasting the ex post figures than simpler benchmarks. Further, we find that real time CABs have low power in detecting fiscal slippages, and in correctly identifying fiscal improvements. Around half of the real time errors in CABs can be attributed to revisions in the cyclical component of the budget balance, and around one half to revisions in the deficit to GDP ratio across vintages. That means it will be difficult to use them to reliably monitor the health of public finances. Lastly, we find that CABs are systematically less reliable under conditions of poor or deteriorating public finances, which means they are at their most unreliable precisely when they are needed most

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Paper provided by Bank of Estonia in its series Bank of Estonia Working Papers with number 2009-2.

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Date of creation: 20 Oct 2009
Date of revision: 20 Oct 2009
Handle: RePEc:eea:boewps:wp2009-02
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  1. Beetsma, Roel & Giuliodori, Massimo, 2007. "On the Relationship between Fiscal Plans in the European Union: An Empirical Analysis Based on Real-Time Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 6088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Athanasios Orphanides & Simon van Norden, 1999. "The reliability of output gap estimates in real time," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-38, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. von Hagen, Jurgen & Wolff, Guntram B., 2006. "What do deficits tell us about debt? Empirical evidence on creative accounting with fiscal rules in the EU," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 3259-3279, December.
  4. Cimadomo, Jacopo, 2008. "Fiscal policy in real time," Working Paper Series 0919, European Central Bank.
  5. Forni, Lorenzo & Momigliano, Sandro, 2004. "Cyclical sensitivity of fiscal policies based on real-time data," MPRA Paper 4315, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Breuss, Fritz & Roeger, Werner, 2005. "The SGP fiscal rule in the case of sluggish growth: Simulations with the QUEST model," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 27(7), pages 767-788, October.
  7. Paul van den Noord, 2000. "The Size and Role of Automatic Fiscal Stabilizers in the 1990s and Beyond," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 230, OECD Publishing.
  8. Olivier Jean Blanchard, 1990. "Suggestions for a New Set of Fiscal Indicators," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 79, OECD Publishing.
  9. Nathalie Girouard & Christophe André, 2005. "Measuring Cyclically-adjusted Budget Balances for OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 434, OECD Publishing.
  10. Vincent Koen & Paul van den Noord, 2005. "Fiscal Gimmickry in Europe: One-Off Measures and Creative Accounting," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 417, OECD Publishing.
  11. Roberto Golinelli & Sandro Momigliano, 2008. "The cyclical response of fiscal policies in the euro area. Why do results of empirical research differ so strongly?," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 654, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  12. 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.
  13. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-176184 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Athanasios Orphanides, 2001. "Monetary Policy Rules Based on Real-Time Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 964-985, September.
  15. Hallett, Andrew Hughes & Lewis, John, 2008. "European Fiscal Discipline Before And After Emu: Crash Diet Or Permanent Weight Loss?," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 404-424, June.
  16. Andrew Hughes Hallett & Rasmus Kattai & John Lewis, 2007. "Early warning or just wise after the event? The problem of using cyclically adjusted budget deficits for fiscal surveillance," Bank of Estonia Working Papers 2007-02, Bank of Estonia, revised 09 Feb 2007.
  17. 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.
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