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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. 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.
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  9. Galí, Jordi & Perotti, Roberto, 2003. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Integration in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 3933, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  12. 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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  14. Adriana Arreaza & Bent E. Sorensen & Oved Yosha, 1998. "Consumption Smoothing through Fiscal Policy in OECD and EU Countries," NBER Working Papers 6372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  18. 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.
  19. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "Electoral Rules and Government Spending in Parliamentary Democracies," Levine's Working Paper Archive 784828000000000024, David K. Levine.
  20. Sorensen, B.E. & Wu, L. & Yosha, O., 1999. "Output Fluctuations and Fiscal Policy: U.S. State and Local Governments 1978-1994," Papers 22-99, Tel Aviv.
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  22. Aghion, Philippe & Marinescu, Ioana, 2007. "Cyclical Budgetary Policy and Economic Growth: What Do We Learn From OECD Panel Data?," Scholarly Articles 3350066, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  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.
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