IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Government size and output volatility: should we forsake automatic stabilization?


  • Xavier Debrun
  • Jean Pisani-Ferry
  • André Sapir


Prior to the launch of the euro, academics and policymakers were concerned that the loss of the monetary policy instrument would deprive participating countries of a vital tool to respond to country-specific economic shocks. This concern was rooted in the generally accepted proposition that market-based adjustment channels-i.e. labour mobility and capital flows-tended to be weaker among euro area countries than among regions of existing monetary unions such as the United States. Automatic stabilizers had long been regarded as playing a key role in macroeconomic stabilization. In particular, they were generally considered as having contributed significantly to the decrease of output volatility witnessed in Europe and in the United States after World War II, when the size of governments increased substantially on both sides of the Atlantic. Hence it was hoped that improved national fiscal policy could partly make up for the loss of monetary policy in stabilizing national macroeconomic conditions. The aim of the paper is to discuss this issue in the light of recent experience.

Suggested Citation

  • Xavier Debrun & Jean Pisani-Ferry & André Sapir, 2008. "Government size and output volatility: should we forsake automatic stabilization?," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 316, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  • Handle: RePEc:euf:ecopap:0316

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jordi Galí & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal policy and monetary integration in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 18(37), pages 533-572, October.
    2. de la Fuente, Angel, 1997. "Fiscal Policy and Growth in the OECD," CEPR Discussion Papers 1755, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Nathalie Girouard & Christophe André, 2005. "Measuring Cyclically-adjusted Budget Balances for OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 434, OECD Publishing.
    4. Ramey, Garey & Ramey, Valerie A, 1995. "Cross-Country Evidence on the Link between Volatility and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1138-1151, December.
    5. Domenico Giannone & Michele Lenza & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2008. "Explaining The Great Moderation: It Is Not The Shocks," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 621-633, 04-05.
    6. Otrok, Christopher, 2001. "On measuring the welfare cost of business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 61-92, February.
    7. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 997-1032, October.
    8. Fatas, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2001. "Government size and automatic stabilizers: international and intranational evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 3-28, October.
    9. Barro, Robert J, 1990. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 103-126, October.
    10. Olivier Blanchard & John Simon, 2001. "The Long and Large Decline in U.S. Output Volatility," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 135-174.
    11. Andres, Javier & Domenech, Rafael & Fatas, Antonio, 2008. "The stabilizing role of government size," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 571-593, February.
    12. Galí, Jordi & Perotti, Roberto, 2003. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Integration in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 3933, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. M Ayhan Kose & Eswar Prasad & Kenneth Rogoff & Shang-Jin Wei, 2009. "Financial Globalization: A Reappraisal," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 56(1), pages 8-62, April.
    14. Margaret M. McConnell & Gabriel Perez-Quiros, 2000. "Output fluctuations in the United States: what has changed since the early 1980s?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
    15. Julia Darby & Jacques Melitz, 2008. "Social spending and automatic stabilizers in the OECD," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 23, pages 715-756, October.
    16. Marco Buti & Carlos Martinez-Mongay & Khalid Sekkat & Paul van den Noord, 2003. "Automatic Fiscal Stabilisers in EMU: A Conflict between Efficiency and Stabilisation?," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 49(1), pages 123-140.
    17. Gali, Jordi, 1994. "Government size and macroeconomic stability," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 117-132, January.
    18. Tanzi,Vito & Schuknecht,Ludger, 2000. "Public Spending in the 20th Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662918, March.
    19. Sapir, Andre & Aghion, Philippe & Bertola, Giuseppe & Hellwig, Martin & Pisani-Ferry, Jean & Rosati, Dariusz & Vinals, Jose & Wallace, Helen, 2004. "An Agenda for a Growing Europe: The Sapir Report," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199271498, June.
    20. Schuknecht, Ludger & Ebert, Werner & Thöne, Michael & Afonso, António, 2005. "Quality of public finances and growth," Working Paper Series 438, European Central Bank.
    21. Philippe Aghion & George-Marios Angeletos & Abhijit Banerjee & Kalina Manova, 2005. "Volatility and Growth: Credit Constraints and Productivity-Enhancing Investment," NBER Working Papers 11349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Christina D. Romer, 1999. "Changes in Business Cycles: Evidence and Explanations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 23-44, Spring.
    23. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles R. Nelson, 1999. "Has The U.S. Economy Become More Stable? A Bayesian Approach Based On A Markov-Switching Model Of The Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 608-616, November.
    24. Carlos Martinez-Mongay & Khalid Sekkat, 2005. "Progressive Taxation, Macroeconomic Stabilization and efficiency in Europe," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 233, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Fatás & Ilian Mihov, 2010. "The Euro and Fiscal Policy," NBER Chapters,in: Europe and the Euro, pages 287-324 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Douglas Sutherland & Peter Hoeller & Balázs Égert & Oliver Röhn, 2010. "Counter-cyclical Economic Policy," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 760, OECD Publishing.
    3. Dionysios K. Solomos & Dimitrios N. Koumparoulis, 2013. "Financial Sector and Business Cycles Determinants in the EMU: An Empirical Approach (1996-2011)," European Research Studies Journal, European Research Studies Journal, vol. 0(2), pages 34-58.
    4. Michael, Bryane & Popov, Maja, 2011. "The Size and Structure of Government," MPRA Paper 53283, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Steven A. Symansky & Thomas Baunsgaard, 2009. "Automatic Fiscal Stabilizers," IMF Staff Position Notes 2009/23, International Monetary Fund.
    6. van Riet, Ad, 2010. "Euro area fiscal policies and the crisis," Occasional Paper Series 109, European Central Bank.
    7. Xavier Debrun & Radhicka Kapoor, 2010. "Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Stability: New Evidence and Policy Implications," Revista de Economía y Estadística, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Instituto de Economía y Finanzas, vol. 0(2), pages 69-101, July.
    8. Davide Furceri & Agnese Sacchi & Simone Salotti, 2016. "Can Fiscal Decentralization Alleviate Government Consumption Volatility?," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 611-636, September.
    9. Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Attinasi, Maria Grazia & Rieth, Malte, 2011. "Labour tax progressivity and output volatility: evidence from OECD countries," Working Paper Series 1380, European Central Bank.
    10. Sangyup Choi & Davide Furceri & João Tovar Jalles, 2017. "Fiscal Stabilization and Growth; Evidence from Industry-level Data for Advanced and Developing Economies," IMF Working Papers 17/198, International Monetary Fund.
    11. Facundo Albornoz & Joan-Maria Esteban & Paolo Vanin, 2009. "Government Information Transparency," Working Papers 392, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    12. Marco Buti & Alessandro Turrini & Paul Noord & Pietro Biroli, 2009. "Defying the ‘Juncker curse’: can reformist governments be re-elected?," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 65-100, February.
    13. Naotaka Sugawara, 2014. "From Volatility to Stability in Expenditure; Stabilization Funds in Resource-Rich Countries," IMF Working Papers 14/43, International Monetary Fund.
    14. repec:taf:regstd:v:50:y:2016:i:11:p:1849-1862 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Jesús Ferreiro & Carmen Gómez & Felipe Serrano, 2013. "Mistakes in the Fiscal Policy in Spain before the Crisis," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 60(5), pages 577-592, September.
    16. European Commission, 2010. "Tax Policy after the Crisis: Monitoring Tax Revenues and Tax Reforms in EU Member States 2010 Report," Taxation Papers 24, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
    17. Markus Eller & Jarko Fidrmuc & Zuzana Fungáčová, 2016. "Fiscal Policy and Regional Output Volatility: Evidence from Russia," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(11), pages 1849-1862, November.
    18. Solomos, Dionysios & Papageorgiou, Theofanis & Koumparoulis, Dimitrios, 2012. "Financial Sector and Business Cycles Determinants in the EMU context: An Empirical Approach (1996-2011)," MPRA Paper 43858, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Klomp, Jeroen & de Haan, Jakob, 2009. "Political institutions and economic volatility," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 311-326, September.
    20. Li, Cheng, 2010. "Government Size and Macroeconomic Stability: Sub-National Evidence from China," MPRA Paper 28226, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Péter Halmai & Viktória Vásáry, 2012. "Convergence crisis: economic crisis and convergence in the European Union," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 297-322, September.
    22. Luis Ignacio Lozano, 2011. "Caracterización macro de la política fiscal en Colombia y postura frente a la crisis global (2008-2009)," REVISTA CUADERNOS DE ECONOMÍA, UN - RCE - CID, June.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:euf:ecopap:0316. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ECFIN INFO). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.