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Fiscal Policies during the Covid-19 Crisis in Austria - A Macroeconomic Assessment

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Policy Report
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This EconPol Policy Report assesses the macroeconomic impact of fiscal policy measures introduced by the Austrian government during the Covid-19 crisis in 2020 and 2021. Large parts of the stimulus package aimed at stabilizing companies, employment and private households. According to the study short-term work schemes were particularly successful. Equally effective were measures supporting companies and the self-employed who were directly affected by the containment measures, e.g. liquidity support (fixed cost subsidies and loss compensations), tax reductions and tax deferrals.

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Read My Lips? Taxes and Elections

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The paper introduces a new dataset that includes quantitative harmonized indices of tax reforms, which provides indicators on tax reforms for tax rates and tax bases, along with detailed subindices for six types of taxes in in 23 industrialized and emerging economies between 1960 and 2014. Relating tax reforms to the timing of elections, we examine electoral cycles in tax reforms. Our results show that politicians postpone tax rate increases to after elections. A key innovation of our dataset is the coverage of harmonized indices for six tax types.

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Fiscal Rules Post-COVID: Using the Recovery Phase to Reduce Debt Ratios

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EconPol Opinion
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The Commission has recently launched a review of the economic governance rules. One reason for this (re-)launch is that it is widely assumed that the debt reduction criterion cannot and should not be enforced when the suspension of the fiscal rules motivated by the Covid crisis ends. The main reason given is that debt levels have increased and that this makes it more difficult to reach the debt reduction target, which is one twentieth of the difference between the actual and the 60% reference value. However, this argument is wrong.

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Labour Market Power and the Quest for an Optimal Minimum Wage: Evidence from Italy

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Working Paper
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This paper investigates the recent trends in labor market power in Italy and assesses the impact of a potential minimum wage using a large sample of manufacturing firms. The authors show that, despite a general shift of labor market power from the employer to the workers, monopsony power is still widespread, especially in certain sectors and regions. The introduction of a minimum wage would be beneficial to the economy as it reduces the monopsony power of highly productive firms that pay low wages.

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60%, -4% And 6%, a Tale of Thresholds for EU Fiscal and Current Account Developments

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Working Paper
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This paper investigates the relationship between the budget balance and the current account balance for European Union countries with a quarterly data set from 1995 to 2020, using various time series and panel data empirical methodologies. The analysis shows that the impact of the budget balance on the current account balance is greater for those Eurozone countries with an average current account balance-to-GDP ratio outside the range of -4 to 6%, and in Eurozone countries with debt-to-GDP ratios above 60%.

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