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Government Investment and the European Stability and Growth Pact

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  • Marco Bassetto
  • Vadym Lepetyuk

Abstract

We consider the effect of excluding government investment from the deficit subject to the limits of the European Stability and Growth Pact. In the model we consider, residents of a given country discount future costs and benefits of government spending more than efficiency would dictate, because they fail to take into account the portion that will accrue to people that have not yet been born or immigrated into the country. It is thus in principle desirable to design budget rules that favor long-term investment (by allowing more borrowing) over other government spending that only carries short-term benefits. However, given the low rates of population growth, mortality, and mobility across European countries, we find that the distortions arising from treating all government spending equally are likely to be modest. We also show that these modest distortions can be alleviated only if net government investment is excluded from the deficit computation; excluding gross investment may even be counterproductive, as it promotes overspending in government capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Bassetto & Vadym Lepetyuk, 2007. "Government Investment and the European Stability and Growth Pact," NBER Working Papers 13200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13200
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    2. 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.
    3. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 2003. "On the desirability of fiscal constraints in a monetary union," Staff Report 330, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    4. Dixit, Avinash & Lambertini, Luisa, 2001. "Monetary-fiscal policy interactions and commitment versus discretion in a monetary union," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 977-987, May.
    5. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-971, October.
    6. Marco Bassetto, 2006. "Politics and Efficiency of Separating Capital and Ordinary Government Budgets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1167-1210.
    7. Fabrizio Balassone & Daniele Franco, 2000. "Public investment, the Stability Pact and the ‘golden rule’," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(2), pages 207-229, June.
    8. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
    9. Beetsma, Roel & Uhlig, Harald, 1999. "An Analysis of the Stability and Growth Pact," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(458), pages 546-571, October.
    10. Lindbeck, Assar & Niepelt, Dirk, 2004. "Improving the SGP: Taxes and Delegation Rather than Fines," Seminar Papers 733, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    11. Weil, Philippe, 1989. "Overlapping families of infinitely-lived agents," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 183-198, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Bassetto, 2009. "The Research Agenda: Marco Bassetto on the Quantitative Evaluation of Fiscal Policy Rules," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(2), April.
    2. Marco Bassetto & Leslie McGranahan, 2009. "On the relationship between mobility, population growth, and capital spending in the United States," Working Paper Series WP-09-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus

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