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How Does Fiscal Policy React to Wealth Composition and Asset Prices?

We assess the response of fical policy to developments in asset markets in the US and the UK. We estimate fical polyce rules augmented with aggregate wealth, wealth composition (i.e. financial and housing wealth) and asset prices (i.e. stock and housing prices) using: (i) a linear framework based on a fully simultaneous system approach; and (ii) two nonlinear specifications that rely on a smooth transition regression (STR) and a Markov-switching (MS) model. The linear framework suggests that, while primary spending does not seem to react to wealth composition or asset prices, taxes and primary surplus are significantly: (i) cut when financial wealth or stock prices rise, and (ii) raised when housing wealth or housing prices increase. The smooth transition regression model shows that primary spending and fiscal balance are adjusted in a nonlinear fashion to both wealth and price effects, while the Markov-switching framework highlights the importance of tax cuts (in the US) and spending hikes (in the UK) to offset the decline in wealth suring major recessions and financial crises. Overall, our results provide evidence of a non-stabilizing effect of government debt, a countercyclical policy and a vigilant track of wealth developments by fiscal authorities.

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Paper provided by NIPE - Universidade do Minho in its series NIPE Working Papers with number 24/2011.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nip:nipewp:24/2011
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