Essays on Government Growth, Fiscal Policy and Debt Sustainability

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Titel: Essays on Government Growth, Fiscal Policy and Debt Sustainability
Autor(en): Kuckuck, Jan
Erstgutachter: Prof. Frank Westermann, Ph.D.
Zweitgutachter: Prof. Dr. Thomas Gaube
Zusammenfassung: The financial crisis of 2007/8 has triggered a profound debate about public budget finance sustainability, ever-increasing government expenditures and the efficiency of fiscal policy measures. Given this context, the following dissertation provides four contributions that analyze the long-run growth of government spending throughout economic development, discuss potential effects of fiscal policy measures on output, and provide new insights into the assessment of debt sustainability for a variety of industrialized countries. Since the breakout of the European debt crisis in 2009/2010, there has been a revival of interest in the long-term growth of government expenditures. In this context, the relationship between the size of the public sector and economic growth - often referred to as Wagner's law - has been in the focus of numerous studies, especially with regard to public policy and fiscal sustainability. Using historical data from the mid-19th century, the first chapter analyzes the validity of Wagner's law for five industrialized European countries and links the discussion to different stages of economic development. In line with Wagner's hypothesis, our findings show that the relationship between public spending and economic growth has weakened at an advanced stage of development. Furthermore, all countries under review support the notion that Wagner's law may have lost its economic relevance in recent decades. As a consequence of the 2007/8 financial crisis, there has been an increasing theoretical and empirical debate about the impact of fiscal policy measures on output. Accordingly, the Structural Vector Autoregression (SVAR) approach to estimating the fiscal multipliers developed by Blanchard and Perotti (2002) has been applied widely in the literature in recent years. In the second chapter, we point out that the fiscal multipliers derived from this approach include the predicted future path of the policy instruments as well as their dynamic interaction. We analyze a data set from the US and document that these interactions are economically and statistically significant. In a counterfactual simulation, we report fiscal multipliers that abstract from these dynamic responses. Furthermore, we use our estimates to analyze the recent fiscal stimulus of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The third chapter contributes to the existing empirical literature on fiscal multipliers by applying a five-variable SVAR approach to a uniform data set for Belgium, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Besides studying the effects of expenditure and tax increases on output, we additionally analyze their dynamic effects on inflation and interest rates as well as the dynamic interaction of both policy instruments. By conducting counterfactual simulations, which abstract from the dynamic response of key macroeconomic variables to the initial fiscal shocks, we study the importance of these channels for the transmission of fiscal policy on output. Overall, the results demonstrate that the effects of fiscal shocks are limited and rather different across countries. Further, it is shown that the inflation and interest rate channel are insignificant for the transmission of fiscal policy. In the field of public finances, governmental budgetary policies are among the most controversial and disputed areas of political and scientific controversy. The sustainability of public debt is often analyzed by testing stationarity conditions of government's budget deficits. The fourth chapter shows that this test can be implemented more effectively by means of an asymmetric unit root test. We argue that this approach increases the power of the test and reduces the likelihood of drawing false inferences. We illustrate this in an application to 14 countries of the European Monetary Union as well as in a Monte Carlo simulation. Distinguishing between positive and negative changes in deficits, we find consistency with the intertemporal budget constraint for more countries, i.e. lower persistence of positive changes in some countries, compared to the earlier literature.
Schlagworte: Asymmetric unit roots; Cointegration; Domar model; Economic development; Euro area; Fiscal deficits; Fiscal multipliers; Fiscal policy; Government expenditures; Intertemporal budget constraint; Net revenues; Public debt; Structural breaks; Structural vector autoregression; Tax revenue elasticities; Threshold autoregressive process; United States; Vector error correction model; Wagner's law
Erscheinungsdatum: 29-Apr-2015
Enthalten in den Sammlungen:FB09 - E-Dissertationen

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