Ana Venâncio, Victor Barros, Clara Raposo, 29 March 2020

Corporate tax is often seen as a constraint to entrepreneurial activity. This column uses evidence from a tax reform in Portugal to study the relationship between corporate taxes and the behaviour of entrepreneurs. Lower corporate taxes improve both the quantity and quality of entrepreneurial activity, inducing larger and more productive firms to the market, which are more likely to survive in the long term. The study suggests that, on average, the entrepreneurs who were able to take advantage of the reform are mostly male, relatively older, and well-educated individuals.

Lucrezia Reichlin, Dirk Schoenmaker, 26 March 2020

Fiscal and monetary policy coordination is not working in the euro area. This column argues that in order to rebalance the weight of both during major crises, the asymmetry between decision making at the ECB (by majority voting) and the ESM (by unanimity or qualified majority) must be harmonised. This is urgent since the ESM is the only instrument available to provide the common fiscal capacity needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aida Caldera, Alessandro Maravalle, Lukasz Rawdanowicz, Ana Sanchez Chico, 23 March 2020

Global economic growth is expected to remain weak and significant downside risks persist. As room for conventional monetary policy is limited or exhausted, policymakers will need to rely increasingly on fiscal policy to stabilise the economy during the next economic downturn. This column presents new OECD estimates which suggest that automatic stabilisers on average offset 60% of a specific shock to market income across 23 OECD economies. However, there are marked differences across OECD countries leaving scope to make automatic stabilisers more effective.

Niccolò Battistini, Giovanni Callegari, 11 March 2020

With monetary policy constrained by the effective lower bound, the debt sustainability implications of a fiscal expansion are a pressing concern. This column shows that in a general equilibrium model of fiscal limits, the adverse impact of a fiscal expansion on sustainability is muted at the effective lower bound compared with normal times. Getting the timing of public spending increases right, however, is essential for containing sustainability risks.

Christian Bayer, Benjamin Born, Ralph Luetticke, 26 February 2020

How much does inequality matter for the business cycle and vice versa? This column explores the two-way relationship using a heterogeneous agent New Keynesian model estimated on both the macro and micro data. Although adding data on wealth and income inequality may not materially change the estimated shocks driving the US business cycle, the estimated business cycle shocks themselves are useful for explaining the evolution of US wealth and income inequality from the 1950s to today.

Plamen Nikolov, Paolo Pasimeni, 11 December 2019

If properly designed, even a small fiscal capacity can maximise its stabilisation effect. The column studies the macroeconomic stabilisation provided by the federal budget in the US as an example for monetary unions. Corporate income tax, on the revenue side, and social security, on the spending side, are the two most effective items. The key is to collect revenues based on the income of the most mobile factor, and to provide support to the income of the least mobile factor. 

Xavier Debrun, Jonathan D. Ostry, Tim Willems, Charles Wyplosz, 09 December 2019

Knowing whether public debt is sustainable is as critical for economists analysing fiscal policy as for practitioners tasked with charting desirable policy paths. However, because sustainability is intimately related to the government’s ability to honour all its current and future obligations, it is purely forward-looking and assessing it amounts to making a prediction about an unknowable future. This column fleshes out three principles guiding the design and implementation of sound debt sustainability frameworks: relevance, simplicity and transparency.

Heikki Oksanen, 01 November 2019

Preparations for reforming the euro area have stalled, with experts disappointed that politicians have not heard their proposals. This column, however, is optimistic  that the euro area can be reformed via a pragmatic reorientation without high-profile changes to the EU Treaty. The reforms must cover a reorientation of fiscal policy towards a long-term vision and entail revamping the Eurosystem to allow it to perform its proper role as a central bank.

Laurence Boone, Marco Buti, 18 October 2019

After years of solid growth, worldwide economic activity has slowed down sharply in 2019 while global trade has stalled. At October’s annual meeting of the IMF, policymakers have the difficult task of addressing the immediate policy challenges to support economic growth while also preparing our economies for the future. This column argues that while monetary policy is widely recognised as facing increasing constraints, fiscal policy and structural reforms need to play a stronger role. In particular, fiscal policy could become more supportive, notably in the euro area. Undertaking the right type of public investment now – in infrastructure, education or to mitigate climate change – would both stimulate our economies and contribute to making them stronger and more sustainable. 

Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 14 October 2019

With an economic slowdown looming in the euro area, how should fiscal policies respond? This column uses a behavioural macroeconomic framework to investigate the trade-offs between stabilising output and public debt. It proposes that, when the interest rate is lower than the growth rate of the economy, fiscal policy can be used as a tool for output stabilisation while keeping public debt stable. It argues that many EU countries have the fiscal space to stimulate their economies, which could help in preventing a recession.

Lucio R Pench, Stefan Ciobanu, Marcin Zogala, Cristiana Belu Manescu, 14 October 2019

Much of the debate on fiscal discipline and policy has focused on fiscal rules and their appropriate design. Using recent work by the European Commission on national fiscal frameworks in the EU member states, this column shows that other elements of the fiscal framework are just as important as national fiscal rules for fiscal discipline. Independent monitoring of compliance, more realistic macroeconomic and budgetary forecasts, comprehensive and timely fiscal statistics and medium-term fiscal planning are also key for fiscal discipline in the EU.

Sayuri Shirai, 18 July 2019

Modern monetary theory (MMT) has recently gained prominence in light of doubts about the effectiveness of monetary policy in addressing economic shortfalls. This column assesses the implications of implementing the theory’s policy prescriptions, and the challenges it presents in the case of Japan – an economy that some have argued has already been subject to such policy. Japan’s labour shortages and low inflation mean modern monetary theory’s fiscal stimulus suggestions may be harder to implement than they initially seem.

Olivier Blanchard, Lawrence H. Summers, 13 May 2019

The changes in macroeconomic thinking prompted by the Great Depression and the Great Inflation of the 1970s were much more dramatic than have yet occurred in response to the events of the last decade. This column argues that this gap is likely to close in the next few years as a combination of low neutral rates, the re-emergence of fiscal policy as a primary stabilisation tool, difficulties in hitting inflation targets, and the financial ramifications of a low-rate environment lead to important changes in our understanding of the macroeconomy and in policy judgements about how to achieve the best performance.

Raphael Corbi, Elias Papaioannou, Paolo Surico, 01 May 2019

The recent political crisis in the euro area has brought the design of fiscal policy to the forefront of public debate, with many arguing that EU-level transfers are necessary for the ‘completion’ of EMU. This column uses extensive data from a Brazilian federal transfer scheme to show that transfers can play a valuable stabilisation role in a currency union.

Carlo Altavilla, Wolfgang Lemke, Roberto Motto, Natacha Valla, 28 February 2019

The ECB Conference on Monetary Policy took place in Frankfurt from 29 to 30 October 2018. This column describes presentations on topics including the interaction of monetary policy and financial markets, the relevance of banks and credit flows for monetary policy transmission, and the current challenges for monetary policy frameworks and strategies. The conference provided a forum for academic research and the practice of central banking to meet. 

Scott Baker, Lorenz Kueng, Leslie McGranahan, Brian T. Melzer, 30 January 2019

During and after the Global Crisis, economists and policymakers proposed a commitment to increase consumption taxes in the future as a way to shift consumption to the present. This column tests the impact of this unconventional fiscal policy using data on car sales. It finds that households respond dramatically to planned tax increases, but this depends on them having access to credit so they can bring forward their spending.

Pierluigi Balduzzi, Emanuele Brancati, Fabio Schiantarelli, 09 November 2018

The Italian government has decided to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy, with increased welfare spending as its focus. This column uses evidence from the 2010-2012 sovereign debt crisis to explore the potential negative effects of this policy on private investment. It finds that an increase in a bank’s credit default swap spreads leads to lower investment and employment for younger and smaller firms and in the aggregate. These findings suggest the planned fiscal expansion could substantially crowd out private investment.

Antonio Fatás, 28 September 2018

The damage done by procyclical fiscal policy in the euro area between 2010 and 2014 is likely to be even larger than previous studies have suggested. The column argues that fiscal policymakers at the time created a 'doom loop', with unfounded pessimism feeding into policy, and the consequences of those policies increasing pessimism. This has created hysteresis, permanently reducing GDP. 

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