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Back to the Future: Fiscal Rules for Regaining Sustainability

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  • Serhan Cevik

Abstract

This paper assesses the cyclicality and sustainability of fiscal policy in Belize and applies a stochastic simulation model to determine the optimal set of fiscal rules. The empirical analysis shows that fiscal policy in Belize has been significantly procyclical and unsustainable much of the period since 1976. While the government’s recent commitment to maintain a primary surplus of at least 2 percent of GDP until 2021 is supporting debt reduction, stochastic simulations indicate that further improvement in the primary balance is necessary to reliably bring the debt-to-GDP ratio to a sustainable path. Given Belize’s history of large economic shocks, this paper proposes explicit fiscal rules designed for countercyclical policy and debt sustainability. It recommends integrating such rules into a well-designed fiscal responsibility law and establishing an independent fiscal council to improve accountability and transparency.

Suggested Citation

  • Serhan Cevik, 2019. "Back to the Future: Fiscal Rules for Regaining Sustainability," IMF Working Papers 19/242, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:19/242
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alberto Alesina & Filipe R. Campante & Guido Tabellini, 2008. "Why is Fiscal Policy Often Procyclical?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(5), pages 1006-1036, September.
    2. Serhan Cevik, 2019. "Anchor me: the benefits and challenges of fiscal responsibility," Asian-Pacific Economic Literature, Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University, vol. 33(1), pages 33-47, May.
    3. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior of U. S. Public Debt and Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963.
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    7. Talvi, Ernesto & Vegh, Carlos A., 2005. "Tax base variability and procyclical fiscal policy in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 156-190, October.
    8. Tamon Asonuma & Michael G. Papaioannou & Eriko Togo & Bert van Selm, 2018. "Belize's 2016-17 Sovereign Debt Restructuring - Third Time Lucky?," IMF Working Papers 18/121, International Monetary Fund.
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    11. repec:hrv:faseco:34729976 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Cristina Checherita-Westphal & Andrew Hughes Hallett & Philipp Rother, 2014. "Fiscal sustainability using growth-maximizing debt targets," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(6), pages 638-647, February.
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    14. Xavier Debrun & Laurent Moulin & Alessandro Turrini & Joaquim Ayuso-i-Casals & Manmohan S. Kumar, 2008. "Tied to the mast? National fiscal rules in the European Union," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 23, pages 297-362, April.
    15. Baum, Anja & Eyraud, Luc & Hodge, Andrew & Jarmuzek, Mariusz & Kim, Young & Mbaye, Samba & Ture, Elif, 2018. "How to calibrate fiscal rules : a primer," MPRA Paper 86423, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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