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Deficit Limits, Budget Rules and Fiscal Policy

  • Paolo Manasse

The paper presents a simple model for discussing the effects of deficit limits and budget rules on fiscal policy. I find that limits on deficit-output ratios provide incentives to implement procyclical policies when the economy is in intermediate states, and countercyclical policies only in very "good" and very "bad" economic times. As a result, fiscal "reaction functions" are not monotonically related to the state of the economy. Deficit limits are found to exert discipline only provided the limit is tight and the expected sanction large, albeit at a relatively large welfare cost. Moreover, when fiscal choices are made under a veil of ignorance about the output gap, an increase in volatility is likely to raise the level of the budget deficit. Finally, concerning the design of fiscal frameworks, when excessive deficits arise from a political bias, deficit limits should be symmetric and not state-contingent.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 05/120.

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Length: 19
Date of creation: 01 Jun 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:05/120
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  1. Bottazzi, Laura & Manasse, Paolo, 2002. "Asymmetric Information and Monetary Policy in Common Currency Areas," CEPR Discussion Papers 3484, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Massimo Bordignon & Paolo Manasse & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Optimal Regional Redistribution under Asymmetric Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 709-723, June.
  3. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen M. Reinhart & Carlos A. Végh, 2005. "When It Rains, It Pours: Procyclical Capital Flows and Macroeconomic Policies," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 11-82 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gérard & Tabellini, Guido, 2004. "How do Electoral Rules Shape Party Structures, Government Coalitions and Economic Policies?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4226, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Protection for Sale," Papers 162, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  6. Feldstein, Martin, 2005. "The euro and the stability pact," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 421-426, June.
  7. Manasse, Paolo, 1996. "Are taxes too low?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(6-7), pages 1263-1288.
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