La dernière étude de l’excellent économiste Alberto Alesina vient d’être publiée par le NBER. Avec deux autres, (dont Giavazzi avec qui il écrit souvent), ils s’interrogent sur les conséquences des ajustements budgétaires de consolidation fiscale. On y lit qu’ « alors que ajustements fondés sur les dépenses ne sont pas favorables à la récession, ceux fondés sur la fiscalité favorisent de longues et durables récessions« .
This paper studies whether fiscal consolidations cause large output losses. We find that it matters crucially how the fiscal correction occurs. Adjustments based upon spending cuts are much less costly in terms of output losses than tax-based ones. Spending-based adjustments have been associated with mild and short-lived recessions, in many cases with no recession at all. Tax-based adjustments have been associated with prolonged and deep recessions. The difference cannot be explained by different monetary policies during the two types of fiscal adjustments, and is mainly due to the different response of private investment. Rather than studying the effects of individual shifts in taxes and spending, as the literature has so far typically done, we study the effects of the adoption of a fiscal consolidation plan, that is a combination of tax increases and spending cuts, some unanticipated, other anticipated, all announced at the same date. This allows us to obtain much more precise estimates of tax and spending multipliers and is important also because isolated shifts in taxes or spending occur very rarely—almost never in our sample. We find that the correlation between unanticipated and anticipated shifts in taxes and spending is heterogeneous across countries, suggesting that the degree of persistence of fiscal corrections varies.