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Asymmetric Fiscal Stabilization Policy and the Public Deficit: Theory and Evidence

This paper studies the implications of asymmetric fiscal stabilization policy for the budget deficit. In our model, the government is more concerned about downturns than upturns in economic activity and therefore conducts fiscal stabilization policy in a precautionary way. We show that this type of behavior results in a deficit which on average exceeds its target levelt. We test our hypothesis empirically and find that asymmetric preferences for output stabilization are consistent with how fiscal policy was conducted in a sample of OECD countries during 1987-2005. According to our estimates, the upward bias due to precautionary behavior accounted for roughly 13 percent of the average deficit.

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File URL: http://homepage.univie.ac.at/Papers.Econ/RePEc/vie/viennp/vie0908.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Vienna, Department of Economics in its series Vienna Economics Papers with number 0908.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:vie:viennp:0908
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.univie.ac.at/vwl

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  1. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "Why is fiscal policy often procyclical?," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000465, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Velasco, Andres, 2000. "Debts and deficits with fragmented fiscal policymaking," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 105-125, April.
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  4. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 2006. "Electoral Rules and Government Spending in Parliamentary Democracies," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000249, David K. Levine.
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  8. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt," Scholarly Articles 3612769, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Tim Besley, 2002. "Political institutions and policy choices: evidence from the United States," IFS Working Papers W02/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Ricardo Hausmann & Alberto Alesina & Rudolf Hommes & Ernesto H. Stein, 1998. "Budget Institutions and Fiscal Performance in Latin America," Research Department Publications 4160, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  11. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutional Rules and Fiscal Policy Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 25-45, March.
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  14. Philippe Aghion & Alberto Alesina & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Endogenous Political Institutions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 565-611.
  15. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  16. Lane, Philip R., 2003. "The cyclical behaviour of fiscal policy: evidence from the OECD," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2661-2675, December.
  17. Jordi GalÌ & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal policy and monetary integration in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 18(37), pages 533-572, October.
  18. Sørensen, Bent E & Yosha, Oved, 1999. "Output Fluctuations and Fiscal Policy: US State and Local Governments 1978-1994," CEPR Discussion Papers 2286, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Adriana Arreaza & Bent E. Sgrensen & Oved Yosha, 1999. "Consumption Smoothing through Fiscal Policy in OECD and EU Countries," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 59-80 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. RUGE-MURCIA, Francisco J., 2002. "Does the Barro-Gordon Model Explain the Behavior of US Inflation? a Reexamination of the Empirical Evidence," Cahiers de recherche 2002-07, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  21. Torsten Persson & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1989. "Why a Stubborn Conservative would Run a Deficit: Policy with Time-Inconsistent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(2), pages 325-345.
  22. Jordi Gali & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Integration in Europe," NBER Working Papers 9773, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Zvi Hercowitz & Michel Strawczynski, 2004. "Cyclical Ratcheting in Government Spending: Evidence from the OECD," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 353-361, February.
  24. Roubini, Nouriel & Sachs, Jeffrey D., 1989. "Political and economic determinants of budget deficits in the industrial democracies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 903-933, May.
  25. Alesina, Alberto & Cohen, Gerald D. & Roubini, Nouriel, 1993. "Electoral business cycle in industrial democracies," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 1-23, March.
  26. Sven Jari Stehn & Daniel Leigh, 2009. "Fiscal and Monetary Policy During Downturns; Evidence From the G7," IMF Working Papers 09/50, International Monetary Fund.
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