January 14, 2015

CUT, DON'T TAX:

Austerity in 2009-2013 (Alberto Alesina, Omar Barbiero, Carlo Favero, Francesco Giavazzi, Matteo Paradisi, January 2015, NBER Working Paper No. 20827)

The conventional wisdom is (i) that fiscal austerity was the main culprit for the recessions experienced by many countries, especially in Europe, since 2010 and (ii) that this round of fiscal consolidation was much more costly than past ones. The contribution of this paper is a clarification of the first point and, if not a clear rejection, at least it raises doubts on the second. In order to obtain these results we construct a new detailed "narrative" data set which documents the actual size and composition of the fiscal plans implemented by several countries in the period 2009-2013. Out of sample simulations, that project output growth conditional only upon the fiscal plans implemented since 2009 do reasonably well in predicting the total output fluctuations of the countries in our sample over the years 2010-13 and are also capable of explaining some of the cross-country heterogeneity in this variable. Fiscal adjustments based upon cuts in spending appear to have been much less costly, in terms of output losses, than those based upon tax increases. The difference between the two types of adjustment is very large.

Posted by at January 14, 2015 1:20 PM
  

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