“Ekspanzivno varčevanje” ne deluje

Analiza ekonomistov IMF iz leta 2011 (Jaime Guajardo, Daniel Leigh, and Andrea Pescatori, Expansionary Austerity: New International Evidence, 2011, 2011), ki je pokazala, da so zloglasni »Bocconi boys« (Alesina, Ardagna, Giavazzi, Pagano, Perotti in Tabellini) uporabljali pristransko metodo za identifikacijo varčevalnih obdobij in da je ob uporabi pravilne metode, ki upošteva dejanske uradne podatke glede varčevalnih ukrepov, kontrakcijska fiskalna konsolidacija prav v vseh zajetih državah vodila v zmanjševanje domačega povpraševanja in BDP. Torej, fiskalno varčevanje nima pozitivnih učinkov na rast, pač pa vodi v oziroma poglablja gospodarsko recesijo.

Kotrakcijska fiskalna politika ima pač kontrakcijske učinke. Ali po domače, zmanjšanje javne porabe zmanjšuje agregatno porabo in s tem BDP.

Kratek povzetek študije:

The literature remains divided regarding the short-term effects of budget deficit reduction. A standard implication of Keynesian models is that cutting government spending or raising taxes has contractionary effects on aggregate demand in the short term. On the other hand, this standard implication can theoretically be overturned, as Blanchard (1990) explains. For example, a small increase in taxes today may reduce the need for a larger, more disruptive, fiscal adjustment later. It may also signal that there will be substantial tax cuts in the future. By raising households’ expected future disposable income and by increasing the confidence of investors, fiscal consolidation can thus stimulate private consumption and investment even in the short term, a phenomenon known as “expansionary fiscal contraction” or “expansionary austerity.”

A large empirical literature provides evidence in favor of the expansionary fiscal contractions hypothesis. In seminal contributions, Giavazzi and Pagano (1990, 1996) show that fiscal consolidations are sometimes correlated with expansions in private consumption within one year. They present evidence based on case studies and regressions of private consumption on cyclically-adjusted government revenue and spending for a panel of OECD economies. Similarly, using case studies, Alesina and Perotti (1997) find that fiscal consolidations are sometimes correlated with rapid output growth, particularly if implemented by cutting government spending rather than by increasing taxes. These findings have been confirmed by subsequent research based on larger samples of countries and years, including the recent paper of Alesina and Ardagna (2010).

This paper suggests that the standard method used to identify fiscal consolidation in the literature may bias the analysis toward finding support for the expansionary austerity hypothesis. The conventional approach is to identify discretionary changes in fiscal policy using a statistical concept such as the change in the cyclically-adjusted primary balance (CAPB). As this paper explains, changes in cyclically-adjusted fiscal variables often include non-policy changes correlated with other developments affecting economic activity. For example, a boom in the stock market improves the CAPB by increasing capital gains and cyclically-adjusted tax revenues. It is also likely to reflect developments that will raise private consumption and investment. Such measurement error is thus likely to bias the analysis towards downplaying contractionary effects of deliberate fiscal consolidation. Moreover, a rise in the CAPB may reflect a government’s decision to raise taxes or cut spending to restrain domestic demand and reduce the risk of overheating. In this case, using the rise in the CAPB to measure the effect of fiscal consolidation on economic activity would suffer from reverse causality and bias the analysis towards supporting the expansionary fiscal contractions hypothesis.

To address these possible shortcomings, we examine the behavior of economic activity following discretionary changes in fiscal policy that historical sources suggest are not correlated with the short-term domestic economic outlook. In particular, we consult a wide range of contemporaneous policy documents to identify cases of fiscal consolidation motivated not by a desire to restrain domestic demand in an overheated economy, but instead by a desire to reduce the budget deficit. As Romer and Romer (2010) explain, such fiscal actions represent a response to past decisions and economic conditions rather than to prospective conditions. As a result, they are unlikely to be systematically correlated with other developments affecting output in the short term, and are thus valid for estimating the short-term effects of fiscal consolidation on economic activity.

Section II provides further details on how we identify discretionary adjustments in fiscal policy based on contemporaneous policy documents. The historical sources we examine to determine the motivation and budgetary impact of fiscal consolidation measures include Budget Speeches, Budgets, central bank reports, IMF Staff Reports, IMF Recent Economic Developments reports, and OECD Economic Surveys. Our basic strategy is similar to that of Romer and Romer (2010), who examine the effects on U.S. output of changes in U.S. tax rates identified from the historical record. To our knowledge, no other multi-country dataset of tax and spending changes based on the Romer and Romer (2010) historical approach has been compiled.2 In addition, while Romer and Romer (2010) identify 23 tax changes motivated by the desire to reduce the budget deficit, we identify 173 fiscal policy adjustments in our sample of countries, potentially allowing us to obtain more precise estimates. A comparison of our measure of fiscal consolidation with the change in the CAPB reveals large differences between the two series, and suggests that, in these cases, the CAPB based approach tends to misidentify deficit-driven fiscal consolidations.

Based on our new dataset, Section III estimates the short-term effect of fiscal consolidation on economic activity. Our estimates imply that a 1 percent of GDP fiscal consolidation reduces real private consumption over the next two years by 0.75 percent, while real GDP declines by 0.62 percent. In contrast, repeating the analysis using the change in the CAPB to measure discretionary policy changes provides evidence consistent with the expansionary austerity hypothesis. On average, a rise in the CAPB-to-GDP ratio is associated with a mild expansion in private consumption and GDP. The large difference in these estimates also arises for a subset of large fiscal adjustments––those greater or equal to 1.5 percent of GDP. These results suggest that the biases associated with using cyclically-adjusted data may be substantial.

We also test the robustness of our estimates along numerous dimensions. The finding of a negative effect of fiscal consolidation on private domestic demand and GDP is robust to excluding outliers; including additional control variables; and using alternative estimation techniques. Also, interestingly, using our series of deficit-driven fiscal adjustments as an instrumental variable for the change in the CAPB yields a significantly negative estimated effect of an increase in the CAPB on economic activity.

In Section IV, we extend our findings in a number of directions. In particular, we consider how international trade, the form of the consolidation, and perceived sovereign default risk influence the estimated effect of fiscal consolidation. We find that an increase in net exports associated with a fall in the value of the currency partly offsets the contractionary effect on private domestic demand. This mitigating channel is less potent in countries with pegged exchange rates. We also find that fiscal consolidation implemented mainly through an increase in taxation rather than by cutting government spending induces a sharper contraction in private demand. This difference seems to be due to the fact that central banks cut policy interest rates more aggressively following spending-based fiscal adjustments. Finally, there is evidence that fiscal consolidation is less contractionary when occurring in an economy with a high perceived sovereign default risk. However, even in the high sovereign default risk economies, fiscal consolidation typically has contractionary effects on private domestic demand and GDP.

Vir: Guajardo et al, 2011, Expansionary Austerity: New International Evidence, IMF

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