Fiscal policy

In economics and political science, fiscal policy is the use of government revenue collection (mainly taxes) and expenditure (spending) to influence the economy. According to Keynesian economics, when the government changes the levels of taxation and government spending, it influences aggregate demand and the level of economic activity. Fiscal policy is often used to stabilize the economy over the course of the business cycle.[1]

Changes in the level and composition of taxation and government spending can affect the following macroeconomic variables, amongst others:

Fiscal policy can be distinguished from monetary policy, in that fiscal policy deals with taxation and government spending and is often administered by an executive under laws of a legislature, whereas monetary policy deals with the money supply and interest rates and is often administered by a central bank.


The three stances of fiscal policy are:

  • Neutral fiscal policy is usually undertaken when an economy is in neither a recession nor a boom. The amount of government deficit spending (the excess not financed by tax revenue) is roughly the same as it has been on average over time, so no changes to it are occurring that would have an effect on the level of economic activity.
  • Expansionary fiscal policy involves government spending exceeding tax revenue by more than it has tended to, and is usually undertaken during recessions.
  • Contractionary fiscal policy occurs when government deficit spending is lower than usual.

However, these definitions can be misleading because, even with no changes in spending or tax laws at all, cyclic fluctuations of the economy cause cyclic fluctuations of tax revenues and of some types of government spending, altering the deficit situation; these are not considered to be policy changes. Therefore, for purposes of the above definitions, "government spending" and "tax revenue" are normally replaced by "cyclically adjusted government spending" and "cyclically adjusted tax revenue". Thus, for example, a government budget that is balanced over the course of the business cycle is considered to represent a neutral and effective fiscal policy stance.

Methods of funding

Governments spend money on a wide variety of things, from the military and police to services like education and healthcare, as well as transfer payments such as welfare benefits. This expenditure can be funded in a number of different ways:


A fiscal deficit is often funded by issuing bonds, like Treasury bills or consols and gilt-edged securities. These pay interest, either for a fixed period or indefinitely. If the interest and capital requirements are too large, a nation may default on its debts, usually to foreign creditors. Public debt or borrowing refers to the government borrowing from the public.

Dipping into prior surpluses

A fiscal surplus is often saved for future use, and may be invested in either local currency or any financial instrument that may be traded later once resources are needed.

Economic effects

Keynesians argue that expansionary fiscal policy should be used in times of recession or low economic activity as an essential tool for building the framework for strong economic growth and working towards full employment. In theory, the resulting deficits would be paid for by an expanded economy during the boom that would follow; this was the reasoning behind the New Deal.

Governments can use a budget surplus to do two things: to slow the pace of strong economic growth, and to stabilize prices when inflation is too high. Keynesian theory posits that removing spending from the economy will reduce levels of aggregate demand and contract the economy, thus stabilizing prices.

But economists still debate the effectiveness of fiscal stimulus. The argument mostly centers on crowding out: whether government borrowing leads to higher interest rates that may offset the stimulative impact of spending. When the government runs a budget deficit, funds will need to come from public borrowing (the issue of government bonds), overseas borrowing, or monetizing the debt. When governments fund a deficit with the issuing of government bonds, interest rates can increase across the market, because government borrowing creates higher demand for credit in the financial markets. This decreases aggregate demand for goods and services, either partially or entirely offsetting the direct expansionary impact of the deficit spending, thus diminishing or eliminating the achievement of the objective of a fiscal stimulus. Neoclassical economists generally emphasize crowding out while Keynesians argue that fiscal policy can still be effective especially in a liquidity trap where, they argue, crowding out is minimal.[2]

Some classical and neoclassical economists argue that crowding out completely negates any fiscal stimulus; this is known as the Treasury View, which Keynesian economics rejects. The Treasury View refers to the theoretical positions of classical economists in the British Treasury, who opposed Keynes' call in the 1930s for fiscal stimulus. The same general argument has been repeated by some neoclassical economists up to the present.

In the classical view, the expansionary fiscal policy also decreases net exports, which has a mitigating effect on national output and income. When government borrowing increases interest rates it attracts foreign capital from foreign investors. This is because, all other things being equal, the bonds issued from a country executing expansionary fiscal policy now offer a higher rate of return. In other words, companies wanting to finance projects must compete with their government for capital so they offer higher rates of return. To purchase bonds originating from a certain country, foreign investors must obtain that country's currency. Therefore, when foreign capital flows into the country undergoing fiscal expansion, demand for that country's currency increases. This causes the currency to appreciate, reducing the cost of imports and making exports from that country more expensive to foreigners. Consequently, exports decrease and imports increase, reducing demand from net exports.

Some economists oppose the discretionary use of fiscal stimulus because of the inside lag (the time lag involved in implementing it), which is almost inevitably long because of the substantial legislative effort involved. Further, the outside lag between the time of implementation and the time that most of the effects of the stimulus are felt could mean that the stimulus hits an already-recovering economy and exacerbates the ensuing boom rather than stimulating the economy when it needs it.

Some economists are concerned about potential inflationary effects driven by increased demand engendered by a fiscal stimulus. In theory, fiscal stimulus does not cause inflation when it uses resources that would have otherwise been idle. For instance, if a fiscal stimulus employs a worker who otherwise would have been unemployed, there is no inflationary effect; however, if the stimulus employs a worker who otherwise would have had a job, the stimulus is increasing labor demand while labor supply remains fixed, leading to wage inflation and therefore price inflation.

Fiscal straitjacket

The concept of a fiscal straitjacket is a general economic principle that suggests strict constraints on government spending and public sector borrowing, to limit or regulate the budget deficit over a time period. Most US states have balanced budget rules that prevent them from running a deficit. The United States federal government technically has a legal cap on the total amount of money it can borrow, but it is not a meaningful constraint because the cap can be raised as easily as spending can be authorized, and the cap is almost always raised before the debt gets that high.

See also


  1. ^ O'Sullivan, Arthur; Sheffrin, Steven M. (2003). Economics: Principles in Action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 387. ISBN 978-0-13-063085-8.
  2. ^ "Cliff Notes, Economic Effecs of Fiscal Policy". Retrieved March 20, 2013.


  • Simonsen, M.H. The Econometrics and The State Brasilia University Editor, 1960–1964.
  • Heyne, P. T., Boettke, P. J., Prychitko, D. L. (2002). The Economic Way of Thinking (10th ed). Prentice Hall.
  • Larch, M. and J. Nogueira Martins (2009). Fiscal Policy Making in the European Union: An Assessment of Current Practice and Challenges. Routledge.
  • Hansen, Bent (2003). The Economic Theory of Fiscal Policy, Volume 3. Routledge.
  • Anderson, J. E. (2005). Fiscal Reform and its Firm-Level Effects in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Working Papers Series wp800, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  • D. Harries. Roger Fenton and the Crimean War

External links

Budgetary policy

Budgetary policy refers to government attempts to run a budget in equilibrium or in surplus. The aim is to reduce the public debt.

It is not the same as a fiscal policy, which deals with the fiscal stimulus to the economy, the repartition of taxes and the generosity of allowances.

Economic policy

The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, national ownership, and many other areas of government interventions into the economy.

Most factors of economic policy can be divided into either fiscal policy, which deals with government actions regarding taxation and spending, or monetary policy, which deals with central banking actions regarding the money supply and interest rates.

Such policies are often influenced by international institutions like the International Monetary Fund or World Bank as well as political beliefs and the consequent policies of parties.

Finance minister

A finance minister is an executive or cabinet position in charge of one or more of government finances, economic policy and financial regulation. It may also be a junior minister in the finance department, the British Treasury, for example has four junior ministers.

A finance minister's portfolio has a large variety of names across the world, such as "treasury", "finance", "financial affairs", "economy" or "economic affairs". The position of the finance minister might be named for this portfolio, but it may also have some other name, like "Treasurer" or, in the United Kingdom, "Chancellor of the Exchequer".

The duties of a finance minister differ between countries. Typically, they encompass one or more of government finance, fiscal policy, and financial regulation, but there are significant differences between countries:

in some countries the finance minister might also have oversight of monetary policy (while in other countries that is the responsibility of an independent central bank);

in some countries the finance minister might be assisted by one or more other ministers (some supported by a separate government department) with respect to fiscal policy or budget formation;

in many countries there is a separate portfolio for general economic policy in the form of a ministry of "economic affairs" or "national economy" or "commerce";

in many countries financial regulation is handled by a separate agency, which might be overseen by the finance ministry or some other government body.Finance ministers are also often found in governments of federated states or provinces of a federal country. In these cases their powers may be substantially limited by superior legislative or fiscal policy, notably the control of taxation, spending, currency, inter-bank interest rates and the money supply.

The powers of a finance minister vary between governments. In the United Kingdom and Australia, the finance minister (called the "Chancellor of the Exchequer" and the "Treasurer" respectively) is in practice the most important cabinet post after the Prime Minister.

In the United States, the finance minister is called the "Secretary of the Treasury", though there is a separate and subordinate Treasurer of the United States, and it is the director of the Office of Management and Budget who drafts the budget.

In the United Kingdom, the equivalent of the finance minister is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Due to a quirk of history, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is also styled Second Lord of the Treasury with the Prime Minister also holding the historic position of First Lord of the Treasury. This signals the Prime Minister's seniority and superior responsibility over the Treasury.

In Hong Kong the finance minister is called the Financial Secretary, though there is a Secretary for the Treasury subordinate to him.

In Australia, the senior minister is the Treasurer, although there is a Minister for Finance who is more junior and, as of 2018, heads a separate portfolio of Finance and the Public Service.

Finance ministers can be unpopular if they must raise taxes or cut spending. Finance ministers whose key decisions had directly benefited both the performance and perception of their country’s economic and financial achievements are recognised by the annual Euromoney Finance Minister of the Year award.

Fiscal policy of the Philippines

Fiscal policy refers to the "measures employed by governments to stabilize the economy, specifically by manipulating the levels and allocations of taxes and government expenditures. Fiscal measures are frequently used in tandem with monetary policy to achieve certain goals." In the Philippines, this is characterized by continuous and increasing levels of debt and budget deficits, though there have been improvements in the last few years.The Philippine government’s main source of revenue are taxes, with some non-tax revenue also being collected. To finance fiscal deficit and debt, the Philippines relies on both domestic and external sources.

Fiscal policy during the Marcos administration was primarily focused on indirect tax collection and on government spending on economic services and infrastructure development. The first Aquino administration inherited a large fiscal deficit from the previous administration, but managed to reduce fiscal imbalance and improve tax collection through the introduction of the 1986 Tax Reform Program and the value added tax. The Ramos administration experienced budget surpluses due to substantial gains from the massive sale of government assets and strong foreign investment iyears and administrations. The Estrada administration faced a large fiscal deficit due to the decrease in tax effort and the repayment of the Ramos administration’s debt to contractors and suppliers. During the Arroyo administration, the Expanded Value Added Tax Law was enacted, national debt-to-GDP ratio peaked, and underspending on public infrastructure and other capital expenditures was observed.

Fiscal policy of the United States

Fiscal policy is considered any changes the government makes to the national budget in order to influence a nation's economy. The approach to economic policy in the United States was rather laissez-faire until the Great Depression. The government tried to stay away from economic matters as much as possible and hoped that a balanced budget would be maintained. Prior to the Great Depression, the economy did have economic downturns and some were quite severe. However, the economy tended to self-correct so the laissez faire approach to the economy tended to work.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt first instituted fiscal policies in the United States in The New Deal. The first experiments did not prove to be very effective, but that was in part because the Great Depression had already lowered the expectations of business so drastically.

Fiscal union

Fiscal union is the integration of the fiscal policy of nations or states. Under fiscal union decisions about the collection and expenditure of taxes are taken by common institutions, shared by the participating governments.

Government revenue

Government revenue is money received by a government. It is an important tool of the fiscal policy of the government and is the opposite factor of government spending. Revenues earned by the government are received from sources such as taxes levied on the incomes and wealth accumulation of individuals and corporations and on the goods and services produced, exports and imports, non-taxable sources such as government-owned corporations' incomes, central bank revenue and capital receipts in the form of external loans and debts from international financial institutions. It is used to benefit the country. Governments use revenue to better develop the country, to fix roads, build homes, fix schools etc. The money that government collects pays for the services that is provided for the people.

The sources of finance used by the central government are mainly taxes paid by the public.

Seignorage is one of the ways a government can increase revenue, by deflating the value of its currency in exchange for surplus revenue, by saving money this way Governments can increase the price of goods too far.

Government spending

Government spending or expenditure includes all government consumption, investment, and transfer payments. In national income accounting the acquisition by governments of goods and services for current use, to directly satisfy the individual or collective needs of the community, is classed as government final consumption expenditure. Government acquisition of goods and services intended to create future benefits, such as infrastructure investment or research spending, is classed as government investment (government gross capital formation). These two types of government spending, on final consumption and on gross capital formation, together constitute one of the major components of gross domestic product.

Government spending can be financed by government borrowing, or taxes. Changes in government spending is a major component of fiscal policy used to stabilize the macroeconomic business cycle.


Macroeconomics (from the Greek prefix makro- meaning "large" + economics) is a branch of economics dealing with the performance, structure, behavior, and decision-making of an economy as a whole. This includes regional, national, and global economies. Macroeconomists study aggregated indicators such as GDP, unemployment rates, national income, price indices, and the interrelations among the different sectors of the economy to better understand how the whole economy functions. They also develop models that explain the relationship between such factors as national income, output, consumption, unemployment, inflation, saving, investment, international trade, and international finance.

While macroeconomics is a broad field of study, there are two areas of research that are emblematic of the discipline: the attempt to understand the causes and consequences of short-run fluctuations in national income (the business cycle), and the attempt to understand the determinants of long-run economic growth (increases in national income). Macroeconomic models and their forecasts are used by governments to assist in the development and evaluation of economic policy.

Macroeconomics and microeconomics, a pair of terms coined by Ragnar Frisch, are the two most general fields in economics. In contrast to macroeconomics, microeconomics is the branch of economics that studies the behavior of individuals and firms in making decisions and the interactions among these individuals and firms in narrowly-defined markets.

Minister of Finance (India)

The Minister of Finance (or simply, Finance Minister) is the head of the Ministry of Finance of the Government of India. One of the senior-most offices in the Union Cabinet, the finance minister is responsible for the fiscal policy of the government. As part of this, a key duty of the Finance Minister is to present the annual Union Budget in Parliament, which details the government's plan for taxation and spending in the coming financial year. Through the Budget, the finance minister also outlines the allocations to different ministries and departments. Occasionally, he is assisted by the Minister of State for Finance and the lower-ranked Deputy Minister of Finance.

Monetary and fiscal policy of Japan

Monetary policy pertains to the regulation, availability, and cost of credit, while fiscal policy deals with government expenditures, taxes, and debt. Through management of these areas, the Ministry of Finance regulated the allocation of resources in the economy, affected the distribution of income and wealth among the citizenry, stabilized the level of economic activities, and promoted economic growth and welfare.

The Ministry of Finance played an important role in Japan's postwar economic growth. It advocated a "growth first" approach, with a high proportion of government spending going to capital accumulation, and minimum government spending overall, which kept both taxes and deficit spending down, making more money available for private investment. Most Japanese put money into savings accounts, mostly postal savings.

National fiscal policy response to the Great Recession

Beginning in 2008 many nations of the world enacted fiscal stimulus plans in response to the Great Recession. These nations used different combinations of government spending and tax cuts to boost their sagging economies. Most of these plans were based on the Keynesian theory that deficit spending by governments can replace some of the demand lost during a recession and prevent the waste of economic resources idled by a lack of demand. The International Monetary Fund recommended that countries implement fiscal stimulus measures equal to 2% of their GDP to help offset the global contraction. In subsequent years, fiscal consolidation measures were implemented by some countries in an effort to reduce debt and deficit levels while at the same time stimulating economic recovery.

Non-tax revenue

Non-tax revenue or non-tax receipts are government revenue not generated from taxes.

Political positions of Rick Perry

Rick Perry is an American politician who served as the 47th Governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015. He was a candidate for the nomination of the Republican Party for President of the United States in 2012 and 2016, and currently serves as the United States Secretary of Energy.

Public works

Public works are a broad category of infrastructure projects, financed and constructed by the government, for recreational, employment, and health and safety uses in the greater community. They include public buildings (municipal buildings, schools, hospitals), transport infrastructure (roads, railroads, bridges, pipelines, canals, ports, airports), public spaces (public squares, parks, beaches), public services (water supply and treatment, sewage treatment, electrical grid, dams), and other, usually long-term, physical assets and facilities. Though often interchangeable with public infrastructure and public capital, public works does not necessarily carry an economic component, thereby being a broader term.

Public works has been encouraged since antiquity. For example, the Roman emperor Nero encouraged the construction of various infrastructure projects during widespread deflation.

State monopoly

In economics, a government monopoly (or public monopoly) is a form of coercive monopoly in which a government agency or government corporation is the sole provider of a particular good or service and competition is prohibited by law. It is a monopoly created by the government. It is usually distinguished from a government-granted monopoly, where the government grants a monopoly to a private individual or company.

A government monopoly may be run by any level of government - national, regional, local; for levels below the national, it is a local monopoly. The term state monopoly usually means a government monopoly run by the national government, although it may also refer to monopolies run by regional entities called "states" (notably the U.S. states).

Stimulus (economics)

In economics, stimulus refers to attempts to use monetary or fiscal policy (or stabilization policy in general) to stimulate the economy. Stimulus can also refer to monetary policies like lowering interest rates and quantitative easing.A stimulus is sometimes colloquially referred to as "priming the pump" or "pump priming", In the 1930s, President Herbert Hoover was accused of "pump priming", and President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the term favorably.


In finance, a straddle strategy refers to two transactions that share the same security, with positions that offset one another. One holds long risk, the other short. As a result, it involves the purchase or sale of particular option derivatives that allow the holder to profit based on how much the price of the underlying security moves, regardless of the direction of price movement.

A straddle involves buying a call and put with same strike price and expiration date. If the stock price is close to the strike price at expiration of the options, the straddle leads to a loss. However, if there is a sufficiently large move in either direction, a significant profit will result. A straddle is appropriate when an investor is expecting a large move in a stock price but does not know in which direction the move will be.The purchase of particular option derivatives is known as a long straddle, while the sale of the option derivatives is known as a short straddle.

Tax policy

Tax policy is the choice by a government as to what taxes to levy, in what amounts, and on whom. It has both microeconomic and macroeconomic aspects. The macroeconomic aspects concern the overall quantity of taxes to collect, which can inversely affect the level of economic activity; this is one component of fiscal policy. The microeconomic aspects concern issues of fairness (who to tax) and allocative efficiency (i.e., which taxes will have how much of a distorting effect on the amounts of various types of economic activity).

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