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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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File URL: http://www.ofce.sciences-po.fr/pdf/dtravail/WP2008-15.pdf
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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. 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, December.
  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. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  4. Campbell, John Y. & Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1990. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," Scholarly Articles 3353762, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Jordi GalÌ & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal policy and monetary integration in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 18(37), pages 533-572, October.
  6. Brunner, Karl & Meltzer, Allan H., 1976. "The Phillips curve," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 1-18, January.
  7. John B. Taylor, 2000. "Reassessing Discretionary Fiscal Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 21-36, Summer.
  8. Anne Brunila & Marco Buti & Jan In 'T Veld, 2003. "Fiscal Policy in Europe: How Effective Are Automatic Stabilisers?," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-24, March.
  9. Andrés, Javier & Doménech, Rafael & Fatás, Antonio, 2004. "The Stabilizing Role of Government Size," CEPR Discussion Papers 4384, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Henri Sterdyniak, 2005. "Taxation in Europe: Towards more competition or more co-ordination," Sciences Po publications 2005-19, Sciences Po.
  11. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  12. Galí, Jordi & Perotti, Roberto, 2003. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Integration in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 3933, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Roberto Ricciuti, 2003. "Assessing Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 55-78, February.
  14. Jérôme Creel & Paola Veroni & Francesco Saraceno, 2007. "Politique budgétaire discrétionnaire en France: Les effets à court et à long terme," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/3244, Sciences Po.
  15. Bruno Ducoudré, 2005. "Fiscal policy and interest rates," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2005-08, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  16. Philip Arestis & Malcolm Sawyer, 2003. "Reinventing fiscal policy," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 26(1), pages 3-25, October.
  17. Selma Mahfouz & Richard Hemming & Michael Kell, 2002. "The Effectiveness of Fiscal Policy in Stimulating Economic Activity; A Review of the Literature," IMF Working Papers 02/208, International Monetary Fund.
  18. Alessandra Iacobucci & Alain Noullez, 2004. "A Frequency Selective Filter for Short-Length Time Series," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2004-05, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  19. Henri Sterdyniak, 2005. "Appendix 2 : Taxation in Europe : Towards more competition or more co-ordination ?," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/5063, Sciences Po.
  20. Paola Monperrus-Veroni & Francesco Saraceno, 2005. "Reform of the Stability and Growth Pact: Reducing or Increasing the Nuisance?," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2005-01, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  21. Ploberger, Werner & Kramer, Walter, 1992. "The CUSUM Test with OLS Residuals," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 271-85, March.
  22. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/5063 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. 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.
  24. Francesco Farina & Roberto Ricciuti & Paul Hubert, 2006. "L'évaluation des politiques budgétaires en Europe. Règles budgétaires et marges de manœuvre," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 99(4), pages 273-301.
  25. 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.
  26. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/5123 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. 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.
  28. Roberto Perotti, 1999. "Fiscal Policy in Good Times and Bad," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1399-1436.
  29. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/2842 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. Nathalie Girouard & Christophe André, 2005. "Measuring Cyclically-adjusted Budget Balances for OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 434, OECD Publishing.
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