Planning to cheat: EU fiscal policy in real time

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Series Details No.60, October 2009, p753-804
Publication Date October 2009
ISSN 0266-4658
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Abstract: Using real-time data from Europe's Stability and Convergence Programs, this article explores how fiscal plans and their implementation in the EU are determined. It finds that (1) implemented budgetary adjustment falls systematically short of planned adjustment and this shortfall increases with the projection horizon, (2) variability in the eventual fiscal outcomes is dominated by the implementation errors, (3) there is a limited role for 'traditional' political variables, (4) stock-flow adjustments are more important when plans are more ambitious, and (5), most importantly, both the ambition in fiscal plans and their implementation benefit from stronger national fiscal institutions. The authors emphasize also the importance of credible plans for the eventual fiscal outcomes.

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