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Why is fiscal policy often procyclical?

  • Alberto Alesina
  • Guido Tabellini

Many countries, especially developing ones, follow procyclical fiscal polices, namely spending goes up (taxes go down) in booms and spending goes down (taxes go up) in recessions. We provide an explanation for this suboptimal fiscal policy based upon political distortions and incentives for less-than-benevolent government to appropriate rents. Voters have incentives similar to the “starving the Leviathan” classic argument, and demand more public goods or fewer taxes to prevent governments from appropriating rents when the economy is doing well. We test this argument against more traditional explanations based purely on borrowing constraints, with a reasonable amount of success.

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Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 2090.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:2090
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  2. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1994. "The Political Economy of Budget Deficits," NBER Working Papers 4637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2004. "Good, bad or ugly? On the effects of fiscal rules with creative accounting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1-2), pages 377-394, January.
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  8. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314, August.
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