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Automatic Fiscal Stabilisers: Implications for New Zealand


  • Julie Tam
  • Heather Kirkham



Automatic fiscal stabilisers, or the cyclical components of the budget balance, are larger in New Zealand than in the average OECD country, reflecting both higher sensitivity to the conomic cycle, and a more volatile cycle. Fiscal vigilance is especially important in New Zealand. Large projected operating surpluses could easily disappear if lower economic outcomes are mistakenly assumed to be cyclical. But, automatic stabilisers are difficult to use in a policy framework as empirical estimates of the cyclical budget balance vary significantly. While the estimated trend in automatic stabilisers is broadly similar, the level varies significantly, such that at any point in time a 'structural surplus' may be dependant on the estimation method.

Suggested Citation

  • Julie Tam & Heather Kirkham, 2000. "Automatic Fiscal Stabilisers: Implications for New Zealand," Treasury Working Paper Series 01/10, New Zealand Treasury, revised 2001.
  • Handle: RePEc:nzt:nztwps:01/10 Note: An earlier draft of this paper was prepared by Julie Tam in 2000, and has been updated by Heather Kirkham.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Karras, Georgios & Song, Frank, 1996. "Sources of business-cycle volatility: An exploratory study on a sample of OECD countries," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 621-637.
    2. Darrel Cohen & Glenn Follette, 2000. "The automatic fiscal stabilizers: quietly doing their thing," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Apr, pages 35-67.
    3. Goff, Brian, 1998. "Persistence in Government Spending Fluctuations: New Evidence on the Displacement Effect," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 97(1-2), pages 141-157, October.
    4. Guay, A & St-Amant, P, 1996. "Do Mechanical Filters Provide a Good Approximation of Business Cycles?," Working Papers-Department of Finance Canada 1996-2, Department of Finance Canada.
    5. Jean-Claude Chouraqui & Robert P. Hagemann & Nicola Sartor, 1990. "Indicators of Fiscal Policy: A Re-Examination," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 78, OECD Publishing.
    6. Pesaran, B. & Robinson, G. N., 1997. "Optimal funding rules," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 329-345.
    7. Koehler, Anne & Diebold, Francis X. & Giogianni, Lorenzo & Inoue, Atsushi, 1996. "Software review," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 309-315, June.
    8. Christina D. Romer, 1999. "Changes in Business Cycles: Evidence and Explanations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 23-44, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Renee Philip & John Janssen, 2002. "Indicators of Fiscal Impulse for New Zealand," Treasury Working Paper Series 02/30, New Zealand Treasury.
    2. John Janssen, 2001. "New Zealand's Fiscal Policy Framework: Experience and Evolution," Treasury Working Paper Series 01/25, New Zealand Treasury.
    3. Angela Barnes & Steve Leith, 2001. "Budget Management That Counts: Recent Approaches to Budget and Fiscal Management in New Zealand," Treasury Working Paper Series 01/24, New Zealand Treasury.

    More about this item


    automatic fiscal stabilisers; economic cycle; cyclical budget balance; expenditure and tax elasticities;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H61 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Budget; Budget Systems

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