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Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Performance in the Euro area - Lessons for the Future

  • Eckhard Hein

    ()

    (IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation)

  • Achim Truger

    ()

    (IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation)

Since the start of the European Monetary Union fiscal policy in the Euro area has been dominated by the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). Quite obviously the SGP has been unsuccessful in fulfilling its goals, fiscal sustainability and supporting economic growth. More and more countries have exceeded the 3 percent of GDP limit for the budget deficit, while at the same time macroeconomic performance has been unsatisfactory. We analyse fiscal policy and its macroeconomic impact for the Euro area as a whole and for selected countries and compare it with US fiscal policy, with a special emphasis on the period 2001-2005. Whereas US fiscal policy has been strongly counter-cyclical, thus stabilising the economy, in the Euro area fiscal policy has been much more restrictive and has had pro-cyclical and therefore destabilising effects for many countries. However, one cannot put all the blame on fiscal policy. The ECB's restrictive monetary policy and divergent and destabilising wage developments across the Euro area are at least as important as fiscal policy in the explanation of the Euro area's weak economic performance. As a possible solution for the future, we suggest to replace the SGP by expenditure paths as coordination tool, and we discuss an important modification of the concept. Such expenditure paths could co-ordinate fiscal policies across the Euro area in a counter-cyclical way and at the same time ensure fiscal sustainability. Unfortunately, as long as monetary and wage policies remain un-coordinated and destabilising, any improvements in fiscal policy will not be very effective in enhancing economic performance.

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Paper provided by IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute in its series IMK Working Paper with number 07-2006.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: May 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imk:wpaper:07-2006
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  2. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1995. "Inside the Black Box: The Credit Channel of Monetary Policy Transmission," Working Papers 95-15, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  3. Buti, Marco & Eijffinger, Sylvester C W & Franco, Daniele, 2003. "Revisiting the Stability and Growth Pact: Grand Design or Internal Adjustment?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3692, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Eckhard Hein & Achim Truger, 2005. "What ever happened to Germany? Is the decline of the former european key currency country caused by structural sclerosis or by macroeconomic mismanagement?," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(1), pages 3-28.
  5. Philip Arestis & Malcolm Sawyer, 2003. "Reinventing fiscal policy," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 26(1), pages 3-25, October.
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  7. Bhaduri, Amit & Marglin, Stephen, 1990. "Unemployment and the Real Wage: The Economic Basis for Contesting Political Ideologies," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(4), pages 375-93, December.
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  10. Arestis, Philip & McCauley, Kevin & Sawyer, Malcolm, 2001. "An Alternative Stability Pact for the European Union," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 113-30, January.
  11. Jean Pisani-Ferry, 2005. "Fiscal policy in EMU: towards a sustainability and growth pact," Working Papers 52, Bruegel.
  12. Claude Giorno & Pete Richardson & Deborah Roseveare & Paul van den Noord, 1995. "Estimating Potential Output, Output Gaps and Structural Budget Balances," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 152, OECD Publishing.
  13. Jorg Bibow, 2005. "Europe's Quest for Monetary Stability: Central Banking Gone Astray," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_428, Levy Economics Institute.
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  16. Blanchard, Olivier J & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2004. "Improving the SGP Through a Proper Accounting of Public Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers 4220, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Robert Solow, 2000. "Unemployment in the United States and in Europe - A Contrast and the Reasons," CESifo Working Paper Series 231, CESifo Group Munich.
  18. Eckhard Hein & Achim Truger, 2005. "A Different View of Germany's Stagnation," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 48(6), pages 64-94, November.
  19. Allsopp, Christopher & Vines, David, 1998. "The Assessment: Macroeconomic Policy after EMU," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(3), pages 1-23, Autumn.
  20. Benoiˆt Coeure´ & Jean Pisani-Ferry, 2005. "Fiscal Policy in Emu: Towards a Sustainability and Growth Pact?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(4), pages 598-617, Winter.
  21. Eichengreen, Barry, 1998. "European Monetary Unification: A Tour d'Horizon," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(3), pages 24-40, Autumn.
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