1887

OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

English, French

Discretionary Fiscal Policy and Elections

The Experience of the Early Years of EMU

An early criticism of the Stability and Growth Pact has pointed to its asymmetric nature and the weak mechanisms to prevent politically-motivated fiscal policies: its constraints would bite in downswings but not in upswings, especially if in the latter the electoral cycle increases the temptation to run expansionary policies. We find that the experience of the initial years of EMU lends support to this criticism. Overall, unlike the experience in the run-up to EMU, fiscal policies had an expansionary bias, and a “genuine” discretionary boost took place in correspondence to political elections. Both sign and composition of such discretionary changes are in line with the predictions of the recent literature on electoral budget cycles. Closer fiscal surveillance may help detect early such behaviour, but it is unlikely to curb the incentives to run politically-motivated fiscal policies when elections approach ...

English

Keywords: political business cycle, stability and growth pact, fiscal policy, elections, Economic and Monetary Union
JEL: E61: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook / Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination; H6: Public Economics / National Budget, Deficit, and Debt; H5: Public Economics / National Government Expenditures and Related Policies; H3: Public Economics / Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
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