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Automatic Fiscal Stabilisers: What they are and what they do

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  • Jan in 't Veld
  • Martin Larch
  • Marieke Vandeweyer

Abstract

The global financial and economic crisis has revived the debate in the academic literature and in policy circles about the size and effectiveness of automatic fiscal stabilisers. Especially in the euro area where monetary policy is centralised and discretionary fiscal policy making is constrained by the EU fiscal rules, knowing the size and the effectiveness of automatic stabilisers is crucial. While automatic stabilisers are a fairly established concept in the fiscal policy literature, there is still no consensus about their actual nature and their effectiveness. This paper shows that differences in opinion mirror a deeper disagreement over how the budget would look like without automatic stabilisers. This issue is addressed by defining two types of counterfactual budgets giving rise to two different interpretations about the nature of automatic stabilisation. Simulations with a structural model confirm that the degree of smoothing is conditional on how the counterfactual budget, i.e. the budget without automatic stabilisers, is defined.

Suggested Citation

  • Jan in 't Veld & Martin Larch & Marieke Vandeweyer, 2012. "Automatic Fiscal Stabilisers: What they are and what they do," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 452, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  • Handle: RePEc:euf:ecopap:0452
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    Cited by:

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    2. Matthias Burgert & Werner Roeger & Janos Varga & Jan in 't Veld & Lukas Vogel, 2020. "A Global Economy Version of QUEST: Simulation Properties," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 126, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    3. Balleer, Almut & Gehrke, Britta & Lechthaler, Wolfgang & Merkl, Christian, 2016. "Does short-time work save jobs? A business cycle analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 99-122.
    4. Mathias Dolls & Clemens Fuest & Andreas Peichl & Christian Wittneben, 2019. "Fiscal Consolidation and Automatic Stabilization: New Results," CESifo Working Paper Series 8021, CESifo.
    5. Cláudia Braz & Nicolas Carnot, 2019. "Euro Area Fiscal Policy Changes: Stylised Features of the Past Two Decades," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 109, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    6. Rieth, Malte & Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Attinasi, Maria-Grazia, 2016. "Personal income tax progressivity and output volatility: Evidence from OECD countries," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 968-996.
    7. Guido Baldi & Karsten Staehr, 2016. "The European debt crisis and fiscal reactions in Europe 2000–2014," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 297-317, April.
    8. Strehl, Wolfgang, 2019. "Revisiting the progressive consumption tax: A business cycle perspective," Discussion Papers 2019/13, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    9. Chortareas, Georgios & Mavrodimitrakis, Christos, 2017. "Strategic fiscal policies and leadership in a monetary union," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 133-147.
    10. Steffen Elstner & Henrike Michaelis & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2016. "Das leere Versprechen der aktiven Konjunktursteuerung [The Empty Promises of Active Economic Fine-Tuning]," Wirtschaftsdienst, Springer;ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 96(8), pages 534-540, August.
    11. Andreas Zervas, 2018. "Tax Elasticities and the Macroeconomic Effects of Fiscal Policy in Greece," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot GmbH, Berlin, vol. 64(1), pages 59-98.
    12. Papaioannou, Sotiris, 2016. "Public spending, monetary policy and growth: Evidence from EU countries," MPRA Paper 70331, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Kashif Munir & Nimra Riaz, 2019. "Fiscal Policy and Macroecomonic Stability in South Asian Countries," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 228(1), pages 13-33, March.
    14. Aida Caldera Sánchez & Morten Rasmussen & Oliver Röhn, 2016. "Economic Resilience: What Role for Policies?," Journal of International Commerce, Economics and Policy (JICEP), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 7(02), pages 1-44, June.
    15. 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.
    16. Cláudia Braz & Nicolas Carnot, 2019. "Euro area fiscal policy changes: stylised features of the past two decades," Working Papers w201910, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    17. Ryota Nakatani, 2021. "Fiscal Rules for Natural Disaster- and Climate Change-Prone Small States," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(6), pages 1-26, March.
    18. Guido Baldi & Karsten Staehr, 2013. "The European debt crisis and fiscal reaction functions in Europe 2000–2012," Bank of Estonia Working Papers wp2013-5, Bank of Estonia, revised 24 Jul 2013.
    19. Cavallari, Lilia & Romano, Simone, 2017. "Fiscal policy in Europe: The importance of making it predictable," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 81-97.
    20. Şen, Hüseyin & Kaya, Ayşe, 2019. "Output-volatility reducing effect of automatic stabilizers: Evidence from nine EMU member states," EconStor Preprints 206687, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    21. Papaioannou, Sotiris, 2016. "Public investment multipliers in EU countries: Does the efficiency of public sector matter?," MPRA Paper 70332, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    22. Streeck, Wolfgang & Elsässer, Lea, 2014. "Monetary disunion: The domestic politics of Euroland," MPIfG Discussion Paper 14/17, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    23. Alfred Katterl & Walpurga Köhler-Töglhofer, 2018. "Stabilization and shock absorption instruments in the EU and the euro area – the status quo," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue Q2/18, pages 87-110.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • E37 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

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