The Case for Restricting Fiscal Policy Discretion
Posted: 15 Jul 2003
This paper studies the effects of discretionary fiscal policy on output volatility and economic growth. Using data for ninety-one countries we isolate three empirical regularities: (1) Governments that use fiscal policy aggressively induce significant macroeconomic instability; (2) The volatility of output caused by discretionary fiscal policy lowers economic growth by more than 0.8 percentage points for every percentage point increase in volatility; (3) Prudent use of fiscal policy is explained to a large extent by the presence of political constraints and other political and institutional variables. The evidence in the paper supports arguments for constraining discretion by imposing institutional restrictions on governments as a way to reduce output volatility and increase the rate of economic growth.
Keywords: Fiscal policy, Business cycles, rules, discretion, growth
JEL Classification: E32, E62
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