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Absorbing Shocks: National Rainy-Day Funds and Cross-Country Transfers in Fiscal Union

Listed author(s):
  • Timothy J. Goodspeed

In this paper we investigate the interplay between national rainy-day funds and supra-national transfers in a fiscal union. Given that the EU has established rules limiting deficits, national rainy-day funds could in theory provide a way for countries to obey the rules and use fiscal policy, yet avoid using austerity measures during a recession. The rainy-day fund is self-insurance and we examine the funding of a national rainy-day fund for a country in isolation. We then introduce a fiscal union while allowing member countries to retain some fiscal policy control. We find that moral hazard leads to lower contributions to a rainy day fund with a fiscal union present, and further that the higher the fiscal transfer, the lower will be the contributions to the rainy-day fund. The optimal size of the fiscal union trades-off the ex-post insurance provided by the union and the moral hazard which reduces national ex-ante preparation for stabilization policies. Optimally, the insurance provided by the fiscal union should be lower (1) the more effective is own-fiscal policy; (2) the more the presence of the fiscal union reduces rainy-day fund savings; (3) the lower is the relative probability of recession; and (4) the lower is the utility gain of redistribution in the union. We also find that commitment to a transfer policy is essential. A fiscal union that is prone to break the rules on transfers negatively impacts the ex-ante contributions to individual members’ rainy day funds.

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File URL: http://infogen.webs.uvigo.es/WP/WP1606.pdf
File Function: First version, 2016
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Paper provided by Universidade de Vigo, GEN - Governance and Economics research Network in its series Working Papers. Collection A: Public economics, governance and decentralization with number 1606.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2016
Handle: RePEc:gov:wpaper:1606
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  1. George Economides & Apostolis Philippopoulos & Petros Varthalitis, 2016. "Monetary Union, Even Higher Integration, or Back to National Currencies?," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 62(2), pages 232-255.
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  7. Afonso, António & Furceri, Davide, 2008. "EMU enlargement, stabilization costs and insurance mechanisms," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 169-187, March.
  8. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(3), pages 623-646, May.
  9. Clemens Fuest & Andreas Peichl, 2012. "European Fiscal Union: What Is It? Does It work? And Are There Really 'No Alternatives'?," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 13(1), pages 03-09, 04.
  10. Zhao, Bo, 2014. "Saving for a rainy day: estimating the appropriate size of U.S. state budget stabilization funds," Working Papers 14-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  11. Neumann, Dirk & Bargain, Olivier & Dolls, Mathias & Fuest, Clemens & Peichl, Andreas, 2012. "Fiscal Union in Europe? Efficiency, Equity and Stabilizing Effects of an EU-Wide Income Tax," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 66063, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  12. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Federal Fiscal Constitutions: Risk Sharing and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 979-1009, October.
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