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Fiscal Policy and Public Debt Dynamics in Italy, 1861-2009



We examine the historical dynamics of government debt in post-unification Italy, from 1861 to 2009. Unit root tests for the debt-GDP ratio are unable to reject either the non-stationarity or the stationarity null hypothesis. Controlling debt dynamics for fiscal feedback policies of the Barro-Bohn style, however, the debt-GDP ratio is found to be mean-reverting. Mean-reversion in the debt-GDP ratio is due not only to a nominal growth dividend, but also to a positive response of primary surpluses to variations in outstanding debt. There is indeed significant evidence that, over the history of Italy, fiscal policy makers have reacted to the accumulation of debt, taking corrective measures to rule out potential long-term sustainability problems.

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  • Alessandro Piergallini & Michele Postigliola, 2012. "Fiscal Policy and Public Debt Dynamics in Italy, 1861-2009," CEIS Research Paper 248, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 27 Jul 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:248

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. MacKinnon, James G & Haug, Alfred A & Michelis, Leo, 1999. "Numerical Distribution Functions of Likelihood Ratio Tests for Cointegration," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(5), pages 563-577, Sept.-Oct.
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    3. Mathias Trabandt & Harald Uhlig, 2012. "How Do Laffer Curves Differ across Countries?," NBER Chapters,in: Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis, pages 211-249 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Hess Chung & Troy Davig & Eric M. Leeper, 2007. "Monetary and Fiscal Policy Switching," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(4), pages 809-842, June.
    5. Johansen, Soren, 1995. "Likelihood-Based Inference in Cointegrated Vector Autoregressive Models," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198774501.
    6. Trabandt, Mathias & Uhlig, Harald, 2011. "The Laffer curve revisited," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 305-327.
    7. Clemente, Jesus & Montanes, Antonio & Reyes, Marcelo, 1998. "Testing for a unit root in variables with a double change in the mean," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 175-182, May.
    8. International Monetary Fund, 2010. "A Historical Public Debt Database," IMF Working Papers 10/245, International Monetary Fund.
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    Cited by:

    1. Baldi, Guido & Staehr, Karsten, 2016. "The European debt crisis and fiscal reactions in Europe 2000-2014," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 297-317.
    2. Piergallini, Alessandro & Postigliola, Michele, 2013. "Non-linear budgetary policies: Evidence from 150 years of Italian public finance," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(3), pages 495-498.
    3. Guido Baldi & Karsten Staehr, 2013. "The European debt crisis and fiscal reaction functions in Europe 2000–2012," Bank of Estonia Working Papers wp2013-5, Bank of Estonia, revised 24 Jul 2013.
    4. Kugbee S. James & Insah Baba, 2015. "Fiscal Sustainability in the Ghanaian Economy: A Fiscal Reaction Function Approach," Economy, Asian Online Journal Publishing Group, vol. 2(1), pages 16-20.
    5. Katia Berti & Eugeniu Colesnic & Cyril Desponts & Stephanie Pamies & Etienne Sail, 2016. "Fiscal Reaction Functions for European Union Countries," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 028, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    6. Rudi Kurniawan, 2015. "Does Indonesia Pursue Sustainable Fiscal Policy?," Working Papers in Economics and Development Studies (WoPEDS) 201504, Department of Economics, Padjadjaran University, revised Nov 2015.

    More about this item


    Fiscal Policy; Public Debt; Fiscal Sustainability;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General
    • C20 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - General

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