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Fiscal policy in developing countries : a framework and some questions

  • Perotti, Roberto
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    This paper surveys fiscal policy in developing countries from the point of view of long-run growth. The first section reviews existing methodologies to estimate the effects of fiscal policy shocks and of systematic fiscal policy, with time series or with cross-sectional methods, and their applicability to developing countries. The second section surveys optimal fiscal policy in developing countries, by considering the role of the intertemporal government budget, and sustainability and solvency. It also reviews the fuzzy debate on"fiscal space"and"macroeconomic space"- and the usefulness (or lack thereof) of these terms for policy analysis. The third section asks what theory tells us about the optimal cyclical behavior of fiscal policy in developing countries. It shows that it very much depends on the assumptions about the interactions between credit market imperfections at the individual, firms, or government level, and on the supply of external funds to the country. Different sets of assumptions lead to different implications about optimal cyclical behavior. The available evidence on the cyclical behavior of fiscal policy, and possible reasons for the observed prevalence of a procyclical behavior in developing countries, is also reviewed. If one agrees that fiscal policy is indeed less countercyclical than we think is optimal, the issue is how to correct the problem. One obvious question is why government do not self-insure, i.e. why they do not accumulate assets in upturns and decumulate them in downturns. This leads to the analysis of fiscal rules and stabilization funds, in the fourth section. The last section concludes with what the author considers important research and policy questions in each part.

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    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4365.

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    Date of creation: 01 Sep 2007
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4365
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    1. Nigel Andrew Chalk & Richard Hemming, 2000. "Assessing Fiscal Sustainability in Theory and Practice," IMF Working Papers 00/81, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Andrew F. Haughwout, 2000. "Public infrastructure investments, productivity and welfare in fixed geographic areas," Staff Reports 104, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    3. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Jonas Fisher, 2003. "Fiscal Shocks and Their Consequences," NBER Working Papers 9772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Reinhart, Carmen & Kaminsky, Graciela & Vegh, Carlos, 2004. "When it rains, it pours: Procyclical capital flows and macroeconomic policies," MPRA Paper 13883, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Finn, Mary G, 1998. "Cyclical Effects of Government's Employment and Goods Purchases," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(3), pages 635-57, August.
    6. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2004. "Fiscal Policy and Financial Depth," NBER Working Papers 10532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Ferreira, Pedro Cavalcanti Gomes & Araújo, Carlos Hamilton Vasconcelos, 2006. "On the Economic and Fiscal Effects of Infrastructure Investment in Brazil," Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 613, FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
    8. Peter Perkins & Johann Fedderke & John Luiz, 2005. "An Analysis Of Economic Infrastructure Investment In South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 73(2), pages 211-228, 06.
    9. Voss, Graham M., 2002. "Public and private investment in the United States and Canada," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 641-664, August.
    10. Fay, Marianne & Yepes, Tito, 2003. "Investing in infrastructure : what is needed from 2000 to 2010?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3102, The World Bank.
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