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Automatic Stabilisation, Discretionary Policy and the Stability Pact

This paper describes recent trends on the efficiency of stabilisers in the European Union. Using both macro evidence on the cyclical sensitivity of budget deficit to economic activity, and micro evidence on the tax and expenditure profiles, we conclude, in agreement with the recent literature, that the importance of automatic stabilisation has decreased. After remarking that this trend is contradictory with the current economic institutions of Europe relying exclusively on automatic stabilisation for the conduct of fiscal policy, we argue that increasing flexibility, one alternative way to reduce cyclical fluctuations, does not seem a viable path. The paper concludes defending the appropriateness of discretionary fiscal policy. We argue by means of a simple model that the theoretical arguments against its use are not conclusive, and we describe a recent stream of literature, based on structural VAR models, that concludes rather robustly for the effectiveness of discretionary fiscal policy in the short and long run.

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Paper provided by Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE) in its series Documents de Travail de l'OFCE with number 2008-15.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:0815
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  1. Javier Andrés & Rafael Doménech & Antonio Fatás, 2007. "The stabilizing role of government size," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 0710, Banco de Espa�a.
  2. Miguel A. León-Ledesma & A. P. Thirlwall, 1998. "The Endogeneity of the Natural Rate of Growth," Studies in Economics 9821, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  3. Roberto Perotti, 1999. "Fiscal Policy In Good Times And Bad," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1399-1436, November.
  4. Jordi GalÌ & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal policy and monetary integration in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 18(37), pages 533-572, October.
  5. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  6. Ploberger, Werner & Kramer, Walter, 1992. "The CUSUM Test with OLS Residuals," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 271-85, March.
  7. Brunner, Karl & Meltzer, Allan H., 1976. "The Phillips curve," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 1-18, January.
  8. Campbell, John Y & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1990. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(3), pages 265-79, July.
  9. Roberto Ricciuti, 2003. "Assessing Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 55-78, February.
  10. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Alain Noullez & Alessandra Iacobucci, 2004. "A Frequency-selective Filter for Short-Length Time Series," Computing in Economics and Finance 2004 128, Society for Computational Economics.
  12. Anne Brunila & Marco Buti & Jan in 't Veld, 2002. "Fiscal policy in Europe: how effective are automatic stabilisers?," European Economy - Economic Papers 177, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  13. Tödter, Karl-Heinz & Scharnagl, Michael, 2004. "How effective are automatic stabilisers? Theory and empirical results for Germany and other OECD countries," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2004,21, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  14. Nathalie Girouard & Christophe André, 2005. "Measuring Cyclically-adjusted Budget Balances for OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 434, OECD Publishing.
  15. Philip Arestis & Malcolm Sawyer, 2003. "Reinventing fiscal policy," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 26(1), pages 3-25, October.
  16. Barrell, R. & Pina, A.M., 2000. "How Important are Automatic Stabilizers in Europe? A Stochastic Simulation Assessment," Economics Working Papers eco2000/2, European University Institute.
  17. Francesco Saraceno & Paola Veroni, 2005. "Reform of the Stability and Growth Pact: Reducing or Increasing the Nuisance," Sciences Po publications 2005-1, Sciences Po.
  18. 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, March.
  19. Bruno Ducoudré, 2005. "Fiscal policy and interest rates," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2005-08, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  20. John B. Taylor, 2000. "Reassessing Discretionary Fiscal Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 21-36, Summer.
  21. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "The Permanent Income Hypothesis: Estimation and Testing by Instrumental Variables," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 895-916, October.
  22. Jérôme Creel & Paola Monperrus-Veroni & Francesco Saraceno, 2007. "Politique budgétaire discrétionnaire en France. Les effets à court et à long terme," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 58(5), pages 1035-1053.
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