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Official fiscal forecasts in EU member states under the European Semester and Fiscal Compact – An empirical assessment

David Cronin and Niall McInerney

European Journal of Political Economy, 2023, vol. 76, issue C

Abstract: The efficacy of official forecasts in the EU has been under the spotlight since the introduction of the euro, with biases widely reported prior to the 2008–12 financial and sovereign bond market crisis. Changes to the EU fiscal rules and procedures, in the form of the European Semester and Fiscal Compact, in the early 2010s were adopted to improve forecasting, including through providing a role for independent fiscal institutions. Using data for 22 countries between 2013 and 2019, this paper shows that, despite these changes, biases, of a pessimistic form, remain in forecasts of budget balance and output variables in Stability and Convergence Programmes and the European Commission's Spring Forecasts. Econometric analysis indicates forecast errors in both the headline budget balance and the structural budget balance being explained by forecast errors in output variables and by EU fiscal rule requirements. Member states under an excessive deficit procedure provide optimistic headline budget balance forecasts compared to non-EDP countries, while those that have not met their medium-term objective report smaller forecast errors for the structural budget balance. Independent fiscal institutions are linked to a smaller bias to forecasts of the structural budget balance but have no effect on the forecast errors of the headline budget balance.

Keywords: Forecasting errors; Fiscal policy; Political economy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C23 C53 E62 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2022.102227

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