Fiscal Policy as a Stabilization Tool

58 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2012

See all articles by Antonio Fatás

Antonio Fatás

INSEAD; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); ABFER

Ilian Mihov

INSEAD; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: January 2012

Abstract

We analyze empirically the cyclical behavior of fiscal policy among a group of 23 OECD countries. We introduce a framework to capture fiscal policy stance in a way that brings together automatic stabilizers and discretionary fiscal policy. We show that, for most countries, automatic changes in the budget balance play a stronger role in stabilizing output than discretionary fiscal policy. When compared across countries, changes in fiscal policy stance are predominantly linked to differences in government size. Tax revenues are close to being proportional to GDP and, combined with a relatively stable government spending, this leads to a countercyclical budget balance, which in turn helps stabilize aggregate demand. Furthermore, countries with less responsive automatic stabilizers, like the United States, tend to use countercyclical discretionary fiscal policy more aggressively. For all countries discretionary policy has become more aggressive in recent decades.

Keywords: Business Cycles, Fiscal Policy, Stabilization

JEL Classification: E32, E62

Suggested Citation

Fatas, Antonio and Mihov, Ilian, Fiscal Policy as a Stabilization Tool (January 2012). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP8749. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1988681

Antonio Fatas (Contact Author)

INSEAD ( email )

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Singapore, 138676
Singapore
+6567995384 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.insead.edu/fatas

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

ABFER ( email )

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1 Business Link
Singapore, 117592
Singapore

Ilian Mihov

INSEAD ( email )

1 Ayer Rajah Avenue
Singapore, Singapore 138680
Singapore
+65 6799 5434 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.insead.edu/facultyresearch/faculty/personal/imihov/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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