Are the current “automatic stabilisers” in the Euro Area Member States sufficient to smooth economic cycles?

24-05-2019

Automatic stabilisers refer to items on government budgets that operate in ways that smooth the economic cycle. These are found to have played this role to a considerable extent – possibly halving the amplitude of the cycle – in the first two decades of the single currency in Europe. However, discretionary fiscal policies have frequently overruled the working of the automatic stabilisers, thus muting their smoothing impact, both in good and in bad times. A supranational buffer fund, to which Member States contribute in good times and can draw on in bad times, might help to mitigate these tendencies, if underpinned by strong political legitimacy, clear rules, automaticity when possible, and solid judgment when needed.

Automatic stabilisers refer to items on government budgets that operate in ways that smooth the economic cycle. These are found to have played this role to a considerable extent – possibly halving the amplitude of the cycle – in the first two decades of the single currency in Europe. However, discretionary fiscal policies have frequently overruled the working of the automatic stabilisers, thus muting their smoothing impact, both in good and in bad times. A supranational buffer fund, to which Member States contribute in good times and can draw on in bad times, might help to mitigate these tendencies, if underpinned by strong political legitimacy, clear rules, automaticity when possible, and solid judgment when needed.

Údar seachtarach

P.Van den Noord