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Testing for contemporary fiscal policy discretion with real time data

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  • von Kalckreuth, Ulf
  • Wolff, Guntram B.

Abstract

We propose a method for indentifying discretionary fiscal policy with real time data. The starting point is the observation that automatic stabilizers should depend on true GDP, while discretionary fiscal policy depends on the information that policy makers have in real time. We approximate the information set of policy makers with GDP data released in real time. True GDP is approximated using the last GDP release. Accordingly, we can compute a real time measurement error. Discretionary fiscal policy can be expected to react to this measurement error, whereas automatic fiscal policy will not. We apply this identification approach in order to test the central identifying assumption of Blanchard and Perotti's (2002) seminal structural VAR. According to this assumption, fiscal policy makers do not react to GDP evolutions contemporaneously in a discretionary fashion. We find that government expenditure is adjusted upward if GDP in real time is lower than true GDP. This suggests that fiscal policy makers can use short-term funds to buy goods and services in response to GDP updates. Our results therefore call the identifying assumption of Blanchard and Perotti's (2002) SVAR into question.

Suggested Citation

  • von Kalckreuth, Ulf & Wolff, Guntram B., 2007. "Testing for contemporary fiscal policy discretion with real time data," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2007,24, Deutsche Bundesbank.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdp1:6145
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/19701/1/200724dkp.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Wendy Edelberg & Martin Eichenbaum & Jonas D.M. Fisher, 1999. "Understanding the Effects of a Shock to Government Purchases," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 166-206, January.
    2. Olivier Biau & Élie Girard, 2005. "Politique budgétaire et dynamique économique en France. L'approche var structurel," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 56(3), pages 755-764.
    3. John B. Taylor, 2000. "Reassessing Discretionary Fiscal Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 21-36, Summer.
    4. Roberto Perotti, 2005. "Estimating the effects of fiscal policy in OECD countries," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    5. Giordano, Raffaela & Momigliano, Sandro & Neri, Stefano & Perotti, Roberto, 2007. "The effects of fiscal policy in Italy: Evidence from a VAR model," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 707-733, September.
    6. Ramey, Valerie A. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1998. "Costly capital reallocation and the effects of government spending," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 145-194, June.
    7. Alan J. Auerbach, 2002. "Is there a role for discretionary fiscal policy?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 109-150.
    8. Tenhofen Jörn & Wolff Guntram B. & Heppke-Falk Kirsten H., 2010. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Exogenous Fiscal Policy Shocks in Germany: A Disaggregated SVAR Analysis," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 230(3), pages 328-355, June.
    9. Croushore, Dean & Stark, Tom, 2001. "A real-time data set for macroeconomists," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 111-130, November.
    10. Perotti, Roberto, 2005. "Estimating the Effects of Fiscal Policy in OECD Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 4842, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 2002. "An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1329-1368.
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    Cited by:

    1. Julia Darby & Jacques Melitz, 2011. "Joint Estimates of Automatic and Discretionary Fiscal Policy: the OECD 1981-2003," Working Papers 2011-14, CEPII research center.
    2. John Lewis, 2013. "Fiscal policy in Central and Eastern Europe with real time data: cyclicality, inertia and the role of EU accession," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(23), pages 3347-3359, August.
    3. Kerstin Bernoth & Andrew Hughes Hallet & John Lewis, 2008. "Did fiscal policy makers know what they were doing? Reassessing fiscal policy with real-time data," DNB Working Papers 169, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    4. Jakub Fischer & Hana Lipovská & Daniel Němec, 2016. "Implementační zpoždění diskreční fiskální politiky
      [Implementation Lag of Discretionary Fiscal Policy]
      ," Politická ekonomie, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2016(3), pages 245-263.
    5. Julia Darby & Jacques Melitz, 2011. "Joint estimates of automatic and discretionary fiscal policy for the OECD," Working Papers 1122, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    discretionary fiscal policy; real-time data; government spending; structural vector autoregression;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General

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