The sustainability of fiscal policies : a study of the European Union
thesisposted on 2012-10-03, 13:07 authored by Carlos M.R. Vieira
The concern with persistant high government deficits and debts has been one of the most controversial and discussed issues among academics and policymakers during the last two decades of the twentieth century. Despite recent efforts towards fiscal consolidation in most developed countries, expensive welfare programs and unfunded social security systems can exert a considerable strain on public finances over the next generations. The main objective of this thesis is to investigate whether current fiscal policies are sustainable, that is, able to guarantee the government's solvency, and what are the consequences of unsustainability on monetization, inflation and interest rates. The first question is tested by examining the long-run univariate and multivariate stochastic properties of the fiscal variables, as implied by the intertemporal budget constraint. The second question is assessed within a vector autoregressive framework, which allows the consideration of feedback mechanisms often neglected in the literature. More specifically, the econometric methodology employed throughout the study comprises recent developments in cointegration analysis, panel data techniques, bounds-ARDL procedure, and Granger non-causality. The empirical analysis is focused on a comparative study of six core members of the European Union, during the post-war period: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and United Kingdom. The evidence suggests that only Germany and the Netherlands have been following a sustainable fiscal path, although the latter remains vulnerable to the consequences of an ever-increasing stock of debt. However, unsustainable fiscal policies do not seem to have imposed an excessive burden on monetary policies, as predicted by the conventional economic theory. Apart from Italy, there is no empirical evidence that high deficits necessarily imply monetary financing, growing inflation and rising interest rates.
- Business and Economics