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Fiscal devaluation and economic activity in the EU

Piotr Ciżkowicz (), Bartosz Radzikowski, Andrzej Rzońca and Wiktor Wojciechowski

Economic Modelling, 2020, vol. 88, issue C, 59-81

Abstract: In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, a fiscal devaluation (hereafter, FD), understood as a shift in taxation from labour to consumption, has been debated as a possible tool for restoring competitiveness, particularly in peripheral countries of the Eurozone. We contribute to this debate. Based on a set of panel and spatial panel models for the EU 27 over the period 1995–2014, we find that FD works, especially where economic activity is heavily subdued and in sectors more exposed on external competition. FD increases value added in exports, improves net exports, accelerates GDP and employment growth, and decelerates growth in labour costs. These effects are nonlinear; they are stronger in the members of the Eurozone and weaker in countries with either more coordinated or more centralised wage bargaining processes or more generous unemployment benefits. The magnitude of these effects is dampened by strict regulatory barriers: they are weaker in countries with higher barriers to entrepreneurship, trade and investment. Most importantly, FD is not a beggar thy neighbour policy, at least in the EU. In our sample, the aggregate demand (‘cooperative’) effect of unilateral FD, which is beneficial for neighbouring countries, outweighs by far the expenditure switching (‘competitive’) effect, which comes at the expense of other countries’ competitiveness. FD implemented in one country can benefit other countries, provided that they are strongly integrated in global value chains. These findings are robust to changes in the estimation methods, the sample composition, the set of explanatory variables and the selection of a spatial weight matrix.

Keywords: Fiscal devaluation; Fiscal policy; Tax structure; Economic growth; Labor market institutions; Panel data models; Spatial panel data models (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C30 C33 E62 E63 E65 H30 H60 J32 J51 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:88:y:2020:i:c:p:59-81

DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2019.09.010

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