All types of recessions, on average, not just those associated with financial and political crises (as in Cerra and Saxena, AER 2008), lead to permanent output losses. These findings have far-reaching conceptual and policy implications. A new paradigm of the business cycle needs to account for shifts in trend output and the puzzling inconsistency of output dynamics with other cyclical components of production. The ‘output gap’ can be ill-conceived, poorly measured, and inconsistent over time. Persistent losses require more buffers and crisis-avoidance policies, affecting tradeoffs in prudential, macroeconomic, and reserve management policies. The frequency and depth of crises are key determinants of long-term growth and drive a new stylized model of economic development.
This Selected Issues paper examines the need of reformation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) in the Slovakia. It is suggested that in light of experience gathered so far, FRA modifications should be considered. Clear guidelines regarding a cost-effective cash management strategy should be established. Debt brake level should be kept at the current limits, rather than lowered over time, to avoid unduly eroding fiscal space. Policies should aim to maintain a safe margin below debt thresholds to allow fiscal policy to play a counter-cyclical role in the future during downturns. Adjustment measures should be more gradual and the bias toward spending cuts should be lessened or removed.
Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Ms. Camelia Minoiu, and Luis-Felipe Zanna
We examine the cyclical properties of development aid using bilateral data for 22 donors and over 100 recipients during 1970?2005. We find that bilateral aid flows are on average procyclical with respect to business cycles in donor and recipient countries. However, they become countercyclical when recipient countries face large adverse shocks to the terms-of-trade or growth collapses-thus playing an important cushioning role. Aid outlays contract sharply during severe donor economic downturns; this effect is magnified by higher public debt levels. Additionally, bilateral aid flows are higher in the presence of IMF programs and are more countercyclical for recipient countries with stronger institutions.
Sweden represents an archetypal welfare state economy, with extensive government safety nets. Some scholars have attributed a decline in its per capita income ranking since 1970 to "eurosclerosis" or sluggish growth caused by distortionary policies. This paper argues rather, that the permanent loss in output following Sweden's banking crisis in the early 1990s explains the decline in its per capita GDP ratings. The paper finds no macroeconomic evidence that welfare state policies have deterred growth. The results warn that empirical growth analyses should distinguish between trend output growth and permanent output loss associated, for example, with financial crises.
Boom and bust phases in asset prices have become a pervasive feature of macroeconomic developments in many advanced economies. This paper studies fiscal policy during boom-bust phases in asset prices and draws several conclusions. First, expansions and contractions in economic activity during such boom-bust phases tend to be highly persistent, cyclical turning points are harder to forecast, and the margins of error for output gap estimates can be large. Second, conventional estimates of revenue elasticities seem not to allow an accurate assessment of the fiscal stance and of the strength of underlying fiscal positions during boom-bust phases. And third, boom-bust phases tend to exacerbate already existing procyclical policy biases, as well as political-economy biases, toward higher spending and public debt ratios.
Maria Antoinette Silgoner, Jesús Crespo-Cuaresma, and Gerhard Reitschuler
We study the smoothing impact of fiscal stabilizers (proxied by government expenditures or revenues) on business cycle volatility for a panel of EU countries in the period 1970-99. The results show that the business cycle volatility smoothing effect of fiscal stabilizers may revert at high levels. We present evidence that for government expenditure ratios exceeding an estimated value of about 38 percent, a further expansion in the size of the government could actually lead to an increase in cyclical volatility. This may call for a reconsideration of the use of fiscal stabilizers for business cycle smoothing.
The likely enlargement of euro-area membership will radically change the environment under which monetary policy will be made in the euro area. Within less than a decade, the number of member countries in the euro area could more than double, with the vast majority of accession countries being relatively small in economic terms, compared with current members. Absent reforms, such a significant but asymmetric expansion could impede the effectiveness of the institutional policymaking process of the European Central Bank (ECB) and be seen by some as resulting in the overrepresentation of small member countries in the ECB Council. The paper illustrates these issues, describes the principles on which reforms of the ECB statute could build, and discusses four specific institutional reform scenarios. The analysis coincides with the ECB Council being scheduled to present suggestions for reform by late 2002.
Josef Baumgartner, Göran Zettergren, and Mr. Ramana Ramaswamy
This paper derives a set of leading indicators of inflation for Sweden. It also discusses methodological and policy issues pertaining to the estimation of these indicators. The main findings are: (1) narrow money is the most powerful leading inflation indicator; (2) broad money and inflation expectations have significant predictive information on inflation; (3) the output gap, interest rates, and the credit aggregate have some predictive information on inflation, and this information is confined to a shorter time horizon than either the monetary aggregates or inflation expectations; and (4) implied forward rates have only weak predictive information on inflation.