Tuesday, October 30, 2012

30/10/2012: Not all austerity is equal

August 2012 paper (link: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2153486 ) "The Output Effect of Fiscal Consolidations by Alberto F. Alesina , Carlo A. Favero and Francesco Giavazzi published by CEPR (Discussion Paper No. DP9105) looked at "whether fiscal corrections cause large output losses." Italics are mine:

The authors "find that it matters crucially how the fiscal correction occurs. Adjustments based upon spending cuts are much less costly in terms of output losses than tax-based ones. Spending-based adjustments have been associated with mild and short-lived recessions, in many cases with no recession at all. Tax-based adjustments have been associated with prolonged and deep recessions.

The difference cannot be explained by different monetary policies during the two types of adjustments. Studying the effects of multi-year fiscal plans rather than individual shifts in fiscal variables we make progress on question of anticipated versus unanticipated policy shifts: we find that the correlation between unanticipated and anticipated shifts in taxes and spending is heterogenous across countries, suggesting that the degree of persistence of fiscal corrections varies."

"Estimating the effects of fiscal plans, rather than individual fiscal shocks, we obtain much more precise estimates of tax and spending multipliers". And "the key result is that while expenditure-based adjustments are not recessionary, tax-based ones create deep and long lasting recessions." The reason for this that "the aggregate demand component which reflects more closely the difference in the response of output to ECB and [tax-based] adjustments is private investment. The confidence of investors proceeds with the economy and therefore recovers much sooner after a spending-based adjustment than after a tax-based one. ...These results are consistent with the descriptive statistics presented in Alesina and Ardagna (2012) who show that the fiscal stabilizations which have the mildest effect on output are those that are accompanied by a set of structural reforms which signal a "decisive" policy change. They [like the present study] do not find any difference in the monetary pol- icy stance between spending-based and tax-based adjustments, but mostly differences in the policy packages regarding supply side reforms and liberalizations."
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