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Richard Morris

28 June 2006
OCCASIONAL PAPER SERIES - No. 47
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Abstract
Fiscal rules are instrumental for restraining deficit and spending biases in euro area Member States that could threaten the smooth functioning of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Ideally, fiscal rules should combine characteristics such as sufficient flexibility to allow for appropriate policy choices with the necessary simplicity and enforceability to actually discipline government behaviour. The Maastricht Treaty and the Stability and Growth Pact established such a rules-based framework for fiscal polices in EMU. However, the implementation of the Pact was less than fully satisfactory. One year ago, the Pact was reviewed and a reformed version adopted which emphasises more flexible rules and procedures, including more explicit room for judgement and discretion than in its original form. While its proponents argued that these revisions would strengthen commitment and implementation of the rules, others emphasised the risk of weakening the EU fiscal framework. A year on from the SGP reform, this paper takes stock of how the EU fiscal rules have evolved and how they have been implemented from the Maastricht Treaty to the present day, including initial experiences with the implementation of the reformed Pact. The first indications are of a smoother and consistent implementation, but with consolidation requirements that are rather lenient while fiscal targets and projections point to only slow and back-loaded progress towards sound public finances in many countries. The assessment of the implementation of the revised rules is therefore mixed. It is of the essence that the provisions of the revised SGP be rigorously implemented in order to ensure fiscal sustainability.
JEL Code
E61 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook→Policy Objectives, Policy Designs and Consistency, Policy Coordination
E62 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook→Fiscal Policy
H6 : Public Economics→National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
15 March 2007
WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 737
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Abstract
In this paper we revisit one of the "missing links" between budget balances and the economic cycle, namely the impact of asset prices on fiscal revenues. We estimate revenue elasticities with respect to equity and real estate price indices for 16 OECD countries, as well as for a synthetic euro area aggregate. For a sub-sample of euro area countries, we use these elasticities to investigate the impact of asset prices on budget balances and the assessment of the fiscal stance by adjusting existing estimates of cyclically adjusted balances for the asset price "cycle". The results support the view that asset price movements are a major factor behind unexplained changes in the cyclically adjusted balance, which, if not accounted for, can lead to erroneous conclusions regarding underlying fiscal developments.
JEL Code
H2 : Public Economics→Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
H6 : Public Economics→National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
E6 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
G1 : Financial Economics→General Financial Markets
30 November 2009
WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 1114
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Abstract
In recent years, government revenues in many EU countries experienced significant and erratic changes, which, a priori, could not be fully explained by macroeconomic developments or by discretionary fiscal policy measures. We investigate this issue by estimating “unexplained” changes in tax and social contribution revenues, based on proxies for tax revenue bases and elasticities commonly used for forecasting or cyclically adjusting government revenues and taking into account estimates of the impact of legislation changes. This is done for a selection of EU countries, including the “big five” euro area countries (Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands) together with Ireland, Latvia and Portugal. We also undertake the same exercise using alternative tax base proxies, either taken from forecasting models or on the basis of our knowledge of the tax system in each country. The results show that, in the aggregate, revenue windfalls and shortfalls have exhibited a broadly cyclical pattern, driven mainly by developments in profit-related taxes and, to a somewhat lesser extent, VAT. Other, more structural factors also play a role, such as declining consumption of fuel and tobacco, as well as factors specific to individual countries, such as developments in property markets. The estimated revenue windfalls and shortfalls can explain a substantial proportion of changes in the euro area cyclically adjusted budget balance over the period 1999-2007. Since these unexplained revenue changes have exhibited a largely cyclical character and might therefore be viewed as partly temporary, this highlights the importance of a careful interpretation of fiscal indicators adjusted for the economic cycle. Except in a small number of cases, the results do not change significantly when alternative tax base proxies are used, suggesting that the potential for improving existing indicators by a better matching of taxes to their bases is likely to be limited.
JEL Code
H20 : Public Economics→Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue→General
H68 : Public Economics→National Budget, Deficit, and Debt→Forecasts of Budgets, Deficits, and Debt
E62 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook→Fiscal Policy
28 January 2016
OCCASIONAL PAPER SERIES - No. 167
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Abstract
Although monetary union created the conditions for improving economic and financial integration in the euro area, in the context of the financial and sovereign crises, it has also been accompanied by the emergence of severe imbalances in savings and investment, credit and housing booms in some countries and the allocation of resources towards less productive sectors. The global financial crisis and the euro area sovereign debt crisis then led to major and abrupt adjustments as the risks posed by the large imbalances materialised. Although the institutional shortcomings in the EU that permitted the emergence of imbalances have been largely addressed since 2008, the adjustment process is not yet complete. From a macroeconomic perspective, the imbalances in the external accounts have led to the accumulation of high levels of external liabilities that need to be reduced, which, in turn, is weakening investment and therefore weighing on growth prospects and growth potential. From a macroprudential perspective, the lingering imbalances have added to systemic risk and rendered the euro area more vulnerable to risks. This Occasional Paper analyses the dynamic patterns in macroeconomic imbalances primarily from the former perspective, addressing in particular the connections between macroeconomic and sectoral adjustments of imbalances and the challenges for economic growth and performance over a longer horizon.
JEL Code
E21 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy→Consumption, Saving, Wealth
E22 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy→Capital, Investment, Capacity
F32 : International Economics→International Finance→Current Account Adjustment, Short-Term Capital Movements
F41 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→Open Economy Macroeconomics
7 November 2018
ECONOMIC BULLETIN - BOX
Economic Bulletin Issue 7, 2018
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Abstract
This box summarises the findings of an ad hoc ECB survey of leading euro area companies looking at the impact that digitalisation has on the economy. Overall, companies regard digitalisation as having a positive impact on their sales and productivity, mainly because it provides better access to customers, facilitates the sharing of knowledge and makes production processes more efficient. They also see digitalisation increasing their flexibility when it comes to price setting. Most companies, particularly manufacturers, tend to regard digitalisation as reducing costs and increasing margins, but retailers are more likely to see input costs increasing and margins being squeezed. Finally, companies report that digitalisation is having a small negative impact on employment, while emphasising the importance of retraining and upskilling.
JEL Code
O33 : Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth→Technological Change, Research and Development, Intellectual Property Rights→Technological Change: Choices and Consequences, Diffusion Processes
E00 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→General→General
4 November 2019
ECONOMIC BULLETIN - BOX
Economic Bulletin Issue 7, 2019
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Abstract
This box summarises the findings of an ad hoc ECB survey of leading euro area companies about their price-setting behaviour, covering various dimensions. Among the findings, it was seen that firms mostly vary their prices by geographical market and by type of customer, but much less so depending on the sales platform. The frequency of price reviews and changes varies significantly across sectors, with weekly or even daily price changes being common for some retailers, while in some parts of the services sector annual price changes are more typical. Manufacturers tend to review prices monthly but change them only on a quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis. Increases in average selling prices are achieved, to a large extent, by introducing new products with higher value content. When reviewing prices, firms pay most attention to costs and competitor prices, with the latter being particularly important for consumer-facing firms. Many factors contribute to sluggish price adjustment: pricing strategies are based on broadly stable costs and margins, a fear that competitors will not follow suit and, for consumer-oriented firms, a focus on pricing points and an understanding that customers expect prices to remain stable.
JEL Code
D4 : Microeconomics→Market Structure and Pricing
E3 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
L1 : Industrial Organization→Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
3 December 2019
WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 2335
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Abstract
The post-crisis environment has posed important challenges to standard forecasting models. In this paper, we exploit several combinations of a large-scale DSGE structural model with standard reduced-form methods such as (B)VAR (i.e. DSGE-VAR and Augmented-(B)VARDSGE methods) and assess their use for forecasting the Spanish economy. Our empirical findings suggest that: (i) the DSGE model underestimates growth of real variables due to its mean reverting properties in the context of a sample that is difficult to deal with; (ii) in spite of this, reduced-form VARs benefit from the imposition of an economic prior from the structural model; and (iii) pooling information in the form of variables extracted from the structural model with (B)VAR methods does not give rise to any relevant gain in terms of forecasting accuracy.
JEL Code
C54 : Mathematical and Quantitative Methods→Econometric Modeling→Quantitative Policy Modeling
E37 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
F3 : International Economics→International Finance
F41 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→Open Economy Macroeconomics
14 August 2020
WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 2455
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Abstract
This paper presents a framework for analysing the evolution of the structural government deficit estimated using the official EU methodology relevant for the Stability and Growth Pact. The focus of our framework lies in the analysis of the main driving forces of changes in estimated structural government revenue, including the impact of changes to tax legislation, fiscal drag (caused e.g. by the non-indexation of income tax brackets), the composition of economic growth, and a residual. This approach allows us to scrutinise estimates of discretionary revenue measures and fiscal elasticities, both of which play a crucial role in the current EU fiscal governance framework. Between 2010 and 2018, Germany's structural revenue ratio increased substantially even though the estimated impact of changes to tax legislation was close to zero. In most other larger euro area countries, by contrast, structural revenue performed worse than could have been expected based on the estimated impact of discretionary revenue measures. Our approach shows that the composition of economic growth was unfavorable for generating revenue in all analysed countries over this time span. Moreover, in most countries actual revenue grew by less than what could have been expected in view of the discretionary measures taken and developments in the macroeconomic aggregates used to approximate tax bases.
JEL Code
H3 : Public Economics→Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
H6 : Public Economics→National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
E32 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Business Fluctuations, Cycles
E62 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook→Fiscal Policy
4 January 2021
ECONOMIC BULLETIN - BOX
Economic Bulletin Issue 8, 2020
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Abstract
This box summarises the findings of an ad hoc ECB survey of leading euro area companies looking at the long-term effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the economy. The responses indicate that companies see the pandemic having a long-term impact both on supply and demand. The pandemic has required firms to implement changes that they consider will make their business more efficient and resilient in the long term and help cope with changes in the structure of demand and consumer behaviour. Almost all the companies that responded said they have accelerated the adoption of digital technologies. They also expect that significantly increased use of the “home office” will continue, which they do not see as negatively impacting productivity. Most respondents expect productivity to increase as a long-term consequence of the pandemic, the other side of this coin, however, is lower employment, given the expectation of protracted reduced demand in some sectors.
JEL Code
Click here to enter text. : Mathematical and Quantitative Methods
3 February 2021
ECONOMIC BULLETIN - ARTICLE
Economic Bulletin Issue 1, 2021
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Abstract
As part of the process of gathering information on the outlook for economic activity and prices, the European Central Bank (ECB) maintains regular contacts with non-financial companies. This gathering of business intelligence has become more structured over time and tends to be particularly valuable during exceptional periods, such as those resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Therefore, starting with this issue of the Economic Bulletin, the ECB will provide a summary of the main findings from its contacts with leading euro area businesses. This article explains how these interactions contribute to the ECB’s economic analysis and how they are organised and summarised. The main findings from the most recent exchanges with companies, which took place in early January, are summarised in Box 1.
JEL Code
E2 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy
E3 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
L2 : Industrial Organization→Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
23 April 2021
ECONOMIC BULLETIN - BOX
Economic Bulletin Issue 3, 2021
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Abstract
This box summarises the main findings from contacts between ECB staff and representatives of 66 leading non-financial companies operating in the euro area. The exchanges took place between 23 March and 1 April 2021. According to these contacts, activity in much of the services sector continued to be strongly influenced by the prevalence of lockdowns and travel restrictions. Meanwhile, in the manufacturing sector, supply was increasingly failing to keep up with demand owing to shortages of inputs, which may continue for some weeks or months. Industrial companies pointed to some upward movement in prices, while prices in the services sector remained subdued.
JEL Code
E2 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy
E3 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
L2 : Industrial Organization→Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
23 July 2021
ECONOMIC BULLETIN - BOX
Economic Bulletin Issue 5, 2021
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Abstract
This box summarises the main findings from contacts between ECB staff and representatives of 63 leading non-financial companies operating in the euro area. The exchanges took place between 28 June and 7 July 2021. According to these contacts, overall activity was growing strongly in the second quarter of 2021 and this was expected to continue in the third quarter, reflecting the gradual easing of lockdowns and travel restrictions, which benefited services, and the continued strong demand for manufactured goods. At the same time, shortages of inputs and transport bottlenecks were limiting activity somewhat in the manufacturing sector and generating pipeline pressures, some of which would feed through to final consumer prices and wages. These pressures should gradually ease over the next 6-18 months.
JEL Code
E2 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy
E3 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
L2 : Industrial Organization→Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior