Fiskalno pravilo je zaradi metodologije proizvodne vrzeli prociklično in nevarno za resno ekonomsko politiko

Sebastian Barnes in Eddie Casey iz irskega Fiskalnega sveta (Fiscal Advisory Council), zraven pa še na OECD in University College Dublin, sta pred dvema tednoma objavila povzetek svoje raziskave glede delovanja odhodkovnih fiskalnih pravil. Ugotovila sta seveda, da so zaradi utemeljitve na konceptu proizvodne vrzeli (ki je “unobservable” in jo je treba oceniti in katere metodologija ocene temelji na napovedanih projekcijah ključnih spremenljivk in ne na dejanskih podatkih, zraven pa še na kupu ad hoc predpostavk in poenostavitev), odhodkovna fiskalna pravila (kot ga imamo tudi v Sloveniji) prociklična. Preprosto rečeno, v času konjunkture podcenjujejo presežek dejanskega BDP nad potencialnim, v času recesije pa podcenjujejo primanjkljaj dejanskega BDP nad potencialnim. Sledenje tako zasnovanim fiskalnim pravilom v času konjunkture zato še spodbuja javne izdatke države, v času recesije pa jih zavira.

Barnes in Casey med dvema opcijama ((a) sprememba skupne metodologije izračuna potencialnega outputa, določene s strani EK ali  (b) ali uporaba alternativnih metodologij, ki bolje zajemajo poslovni cikel) preferirata slednjo. Predlagata širše zasnovane modele, ki vključujejo tudi finančne indikatorje in saldo tekočega računa plačilne bilance. Hkrati pa opozarjata, da je ob teh mehanskih modelskih ocenah še vedno ključna subjektivna presoja. In tukaj je ključna vloga fiskalnih svetov, in sicer presoja relevantnosti posameznih ocen glede na poznavanje domače ekonomske specifike.

In this column we look at the performance of the EU’s existing Expenditure Benchmark from the perspective of policymakers aiming to stabilise the cycle in real-time by following a spending rule. We suggest a real danger that faulty potential output estimates lead to procyclical policy.

The central problem we argue is the inherent difficulty of estimating potential output in real time due to its non-observability, unknown structural breaks, and the non-computability of such a complex variable. Policymakers face an important trade-off between putting too much weight on recent developments, leading to them to follow the cycle, and too little weight on current observations, risking missing structural shifts in the economy. 

Keeping government spending on a steady path consistent with the sustainable growth of the economy is a key objective for macroeconomic stabilisation. Expenditure rules are an attractive way of doing this. However, as we have suggested in this column, good estimates of potential output are critical to the success of this approach.

The data-driven assessment of how the rules play out in practice shows that implementing the Expenditure Benchmark based on the EU Commonly Agreed Methodology would lead to spending that is procyclical and prone to significant revisions in the same direction as actual growth. Institutionalising procyclicality in the fiscal rules would only serve to exacerbate the already-procyclical fiscal policy stances that are evident in many countries

Policy solutions include revising the CAM for estimating potential output or, more plausibly, switching to alternative methods that better capture the cycle.

National independent fiscal institutions (IFIs) could play a useful role in developing and validating measures of potential output that more accurately reflect country circumstances, including through work on medium-term forecasts and on ways of estimating underlying potential. 

This is likely to require a suite of models approaches as well as the use of judgement, including in trying to identify temporary and permanent shocks. Some methods are better designed to identify shifts in potential than the CAM and can be better adapted to country circumstances, both for estimating potential growth rates and the future path of potential output. These included methods that bring in information from the current account and financial variables, as well as more structural models of the economy. Forecasts for potential at a five-year horizon should be published on a regular basis to help their evaluation and improve performance. The most appropriate model and how much weight to put on the most recent observations is likely to vary over time, suggesting that judgement may be important.

The issue of accurately assessing the path of potential output should be at the centre of fiscal policy frameworks, while also recognising that this is necessarily a challenging task and that policymakers need to try to learn more about the underlying nature of the economy and about structural changes to it. A more robust approach would provide a firm foundation for any fiscal framework, including an expenditure-based rule.

Vir: Sebastian Barnes in Eddie Casey , Vox EU

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