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. 

Jon Danielsson, Robert Macrae, 12 September 2018

Financial policy is determined in multiple domains by separate government authorities. This column explores the hierarchical ranking of these domains and authorities. On top is the authority in charge of fiscal policy, followed by those running monetary, microprudential, and finally macroprudential policies. This ranking can cause conflicts in terms of policy effectiveness and legitimacy.

Stephen Cecchetti, Kim Schoenholtz, 25 July 2018

Akvile Bertasiute, Domenico Massaro, Matthias Weber, 07 July 2018

A key critique of commonly used macroeconomic models is their reliance on the assumption of rational expectations. This column addresses this concern with a model of currency unions wherein expectations are formed through behavioural reinforcement learning, that is, learning from past mistakes. The model suggests that economic integration is of crucial importance to the functioning of a currency union. Monetary policy, in contrast, can only play a limited stabilising role.

Simon Wren-Lewis, 03 June 2018

Xavier Debrun, Luc Eyraud, Andrew Hodge, Victor Lledo, Catherine Pattillo, 22 May 2018

Less than five years into the great euro experiment, the president of the European Commission at the time judged Europe’s limit on public deficits to be "stupid". A more intriguing question, however, is whether numerical constraints on broad indicators of fiscal performance can contain politicians’ penchant for borrowing too much and at the wrong time. This column summarises lessons from recent research on fiscal rules, including the new generation of ‘smart’ rules that emerged around the Global Crisis. Rules can mitigate fiscal excesses if they strike a good balance between simplicity, flexibility, and enforceability. 

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This workshop provides an opportunity for all those interested in the Finance and Fiscal Policy to discuss their research and to exchange ideas. Researchers are invited to submit both empirical and theoretical papers that are broadly consistent with the workshop’s special topic.

Rasmus Wiese, Richard Jong-A-Pin, Jakob de Haan, 26 March 2018

Empirical research concludes that austerity measures that target spending are more likely to succeed than those that target taxation. This column argues that this result arises from a methodological flaw that assumes all countries have equal variability in their budget balance. Correcting for this in data from 20 OECD countries suggests that spending-based and revenue-based adjustments have been equally successful.

Sanjeev Gupta, Michael Keen, Alpa Shah, Geneviève Verdier, 07 March 2018

Digitalisation has vastly increased our ability to collect and exploit the information that governments use to implement macroeconomic policy. The column argues that the ability of governments to use the vast amounts of information held in the private sector on financial transactions are already making fiscal policy more efficient and effective. Problems of access to digital technology, cybersecurity risks, and the difficulty of organisational change in the public sector may slow the pace at which these opportunities are exploited.

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