Christos Chrysanthakopoulos
Alpha Bank and University of Patras

Athanasios Tagkalakis
Bank of Greece, University of Patras and Hellenic Parliamentary Budget Office


Using a panel of 86 advanced and emerging market economies over the period 1985-2020, we investigate the short-to-medium term effects of fiscal rules on primary balances. We examine various types of rules (expenditure, revenue, debt, and budget balance rules) and various strict and flexible characteristics of fiscal rules. We find that the adoption of fiscal rules leads to a fiscal easing in the medium term, with the effects being more pronounced in emerging market versus advanced economies. We find an asymmetry in the workings of the fiscal rule over the business cycle. In times of expansion, the adoption of a rule leads to an a-cyclical or even procyclical response of the primary balance, while in times of recession fiscal rules induce a countercyclical impact response. Contrary to the baseline evidence, fiscal rules lead to a prudent fiscal policy response over the medium term when the debt ratio is high, the primary balance does not put the debt ratio on a declining path and the interest-growth rate differential is positive, as well as when the tax revenues generated by the tax system and tax administration are quite low relative to the stock of debt.

JEL-classifications: E61, E62, H6
Keywords: Fiscal policy, Fiscal rules, Fiscal rules’ characteristics, Primary balance

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Hiona Balfoussia and the anonymous reviewers of the Bank of Greece working paper series for their very helpful comments. We also thank Aikaterini Procopaki for assisting with copyediting and proofreading of the article. The views expressed in the article reflect the views of the authors and not necessarily the views of the Bank of Greece, the Hellenic Parliamentary Budget Office and Alpha Bank. All remaining errors are ours.

Athanasios Tagkalakis
Economic Analysis and Research Department,
Bank of Greece,
El. Venizelos 21, Athens 10250, Greece.
Email: atagkalakis@bankofgreece.gr


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