DP5406 The Elusive Costs and the Immaterial Gains of Fiscal Constraints

Author(s): Fabio Canova, Evi Pappa
Publication Date: December 2005
Keyword(s): business cycles, excessive debt, fiscal restrictions, US states
JEL(s): E3, E5, H7
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5406

We study whether and how fiscal restrictions alter the business cycle features macrovariables for a sample of 48 US states. We also examine the 'typical' transmission properties of fiscal disturbances and the implied fiscal rules of states with different fiscal restrictions. Fiscal constraints are characterized with a number of indicators. There are similarities in second moments of macrovariables and in the transmission properties of fiscal shocks across states with different fiscal constraints. The cyclical response of expenditure differs in size and sometimes in sign, but heterogeneity within groups makes point estimates statistically insignificant. Creative budget accounting is responsible for the pattern. Implications for the design of fiscal rules and the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact are discussed.