This paper discusses how to enhance automatic stabilizers without increasing the size of government. We distinguish between permanent changes in the parameters of the tax and expenditure system (e.g., changes in tax progressivity) that will enhance the traditional automatic stabilizer, and temporary changes triggered by certain economic developments (e.g., tax measures targeted at credit and liquidity constrained households, triggered during a severe downturn). We argue that, with some exceptions, the latter are preferable as they can be implemented with lower disruptions in other fiscal policy goals (e.g., economic efficiency). Moreover, countries should also avoid introducing procyclicality as a result of fiscal rules, as these would offset the effect of existing automatic stabilizers.
In response to the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, government budgets and central banks have provided substantial support for aggregate demand and for the financial sector. In the process, fiscal balances have deteriorated, government liabilities and central bank balance sheets have been expanded, and risks of future losses for the public sector have increased.
European Economic and Monetary Union does not envisage creating a central fiscal authority. Monetary and exchange rate policies will be centralized, but fiscal policy will remain a national responsibility, in line with the subsidiarity principle. This paper argues that monetary union will generate pressures for closer economic integration than currently envisaged. Although not a necessity, a more active central role could then be justified on the grounds of allocative efficiency, redistribution, and stabilization. While in the short term enhanced policy coordination may address those pressures satisfactorily, as economic integration proceeds, the case for a central fiscal authority may become stronger.
The globalization of economic activities that is characterizing many economies raises questions about the future of the nation state. This paper discusses this trend and shows that cross-frontiers spillovers have become more frequent and have increased the need for international agreements and international organizations to deal with them. It concludes that a continuation of current trends would increase the importance of subnational government while reducing (in the economic sphere) the importance of national governments.
This paper argues that as countries open their capital regimes, the appropriate fiscal stance should become more conservative than when capital is immobile. Further fiscal adjustment may be necessary in the face of large and volatile capital flows. However, the required changes would be smaller. If a fiscal response is unavoidable, some elements of fiscal policy are easier to manipulate and less distortive than others. Determining the actual stance of fiscal policy is more difficult in an open capital regime, underscoring the need for transparency about fiscal rules. A more open capital environment also constrains the sustainable fiscal structure.
This compilation of summaries of Working Papers released during January-June 1993 is being issued as a part of the Working Paper series. It is designed to provide the reader with an overview of the research work performed by the staff during the period. Authors of Working Papers are normally staff members of the Fund or consultants, although on occasion outside authors may collaborate with a staff member in writing a paper. The views expressed in the Working Papers or their summaries are, however, those of the authors and should not necessarily be interpreted as representing the views of the Fund. Copies of individual Working Papers and information on subscriptions to the annual series of Working Papers may be obtained from IMF Publication Services, International Monetary Fund, 700 19th Street, Washington, D.C. 20431. Telephone: (202) 623-7430 Telefax: (202) 623-7201