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RAPPORT

Fiscal multipliers and beyond

The link between short-term fiscal multipliers with the medium and longer-term impact of fiscal consolidation on public debt sustainability.

This paper seeks to link the debate surrounding short-term fiscal multipliers with the medium and longer-term impact of fiscal consolidation on public debt sustainability. A literature review and empirical findings for state-dependent multipliers confirm that there is considerable uncertainty surrounding the size of the short-term multiplier. Notably, multipliers may be larger in deep recessions or financial crises, but the negative impact of fiscal consolidation is mitigated when public finances are weak. Using a stylised framework and a range of plausible values for the fiscal multiplier, simulations suggest that an increase in the debt ratio following episodes of fiscal consolidation is likely to be short-lived. Even in a macroeconomic context in which multipliers are high, a frontloaded fiscal consolidation reduces the total consolidation effort and implies a faster stabilisation of the debt ratio. In general, backloading is subject to higher implementation risks, most notably in the light of political economy considerations. Overall, when determining the fiscal adjustment path, both the short- term costs and the longer-term benefits need to be taken into account. Particular attention should be paid to the composition of consolidation packages, with well- designed adjustments likely to imply a faster stabilisation of the debt ratio. 

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