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Testing for contemporary fiscal policy discretion with real time data

  • von Kalckreuth, Ulf
  • Wolff, Guntram B.

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.

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Paper provided by Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre in its series Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies with number 2007,24.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdp1:6145
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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. Valerie A. Ramey & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1999. "Costly Capital Reallocation and the Effects of Government Spending," NBER Working Papers 6283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Alan Auerbach, 2002. "Is There a Role for Discretionary Fiscal Policy?," NBER Working Papers 9306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1329-1368, November.
  7. Roberto Perotti, 2004. "Estimating the effects of fiscal policy in OECD countries," Working Papers 276, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  8. Perotti, Roberto, 2005. "Estimating the Effects of Fiscal Policy in OECD Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 4842, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Wolff, Guntram B. & Tenhofen, Jörn & Heppke-Falk, Kirsten H., 2006. "The macroeconomic effects of exogenous fiscal policy shocks in Germany: a disaggregated SVAR analysis," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2006,41, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  10. John B. Taylor, 2000. "Reassessing Discretionary Fiscal Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 21-36, Summer.
  11. Dean Croushore & Tom Stark, 1999. "A real-time data set for macroeconomists," Working Papers 99-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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