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Myths and Facts about Fiscal Discretion: A New Measure of Discretionary Expenditure

Author

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  • Fabrizio Coricelli

    (Paris School of Economics)

  • Riccardo Fiorito

    (Università degli Studi di Siena)

Abstract

In this paper we suggest a new measure of discretionary government spending for OECD countries over the period 1980-2011. To identify the components of discretionary expenditure, we use the volatility and persistence properties of the expenditure series. Discretionary policy cannot be inertial and should be free from prior obligations. Commonly used measures of discretionary fiscal policy do not satisfy these two criteria. We find that discretionary expenditure accounts on average for about 30 percent of total primary expenditure, suggesting that most government spending is driven by inertial and automatic components. These features help explain why government expenditure is generally not counter-cyclical even in advanced economies. Furthermore, the small share of discretionary expenditure over total expenditure significantly reduces the room of manoeuvre for counter-cyclical fiscal policy during recessions.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabrizio Coricelli & Riccardo Fiorito, 2013. "Myths and Facts about Fiscal Discretion: A New Measure of Discretionary Expenditure," Working Papers LuissLab 13106, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza, LUISS Guido Carli.
  • Handle: RePEc:lui:lleewp:13106
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mr. Riccardo Fiorito, 1997. "Stylized Facts of Government Finance in the G-7," IMF Working Papers 1997/142, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Nathalie Girouard & Christophe André, 2005. "Measuring Cyclically-adjusted Budget Balances for OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 434, OECD Publishing.
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    4. António Afonso & Luca Agnello & Davide Furceri, 2010. "Fiscal policy responsiveness, persistence, and discretion," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 145(3), pages 503-530, December.
    5. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 763-801, June.
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    9. Antonio Fatás & Ilian Mihov, 2003. "The Case for Restricting Fiscal Policy Discretion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1419-1447.
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    11. Martin Larch & Alessandro Turrini, 2009. "The cyclically-adjusted budget balance in EU fiscal policy making : A love at first sight turned into a mature relationship," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 374, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
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    Cited by:

    1. Floriana, Cerniglia & Enzo, Dia & Andrew, Hughes Hallett, 2016. "Debt stability under entitlement spending," Working Papers 351, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 07 Oct 2016.
    2. Riccardo Fiorito, 2014. "Extra Government Debt in the Great Recession: All Intentional?," Working Papers LuissLab 14110, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza, LUISS Guido Carli.
    3. Hughes Hallett, Andrew, 2019. "Fiscal governance after the financial crisis: A review," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 54-63.
    4. Floriana Cerniglia & Enzo Dia & Andrew Hughes Hallett, 2019. "Tax vs. Debt Management Under Entitlement Spending: a Multicountry Study," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 425-443, July.
    5. Zsoka Koczan, 2015. "Fiscal Deficit and Public Debt in the Western Balkans: 15 Years of Economic Transition," IMF Working Papers 2015/172, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Greg Hannsgen, 2013. "Heterodox Shocks," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_766, Levy Economics Institute.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies

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