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The impact of fiscal policy on the business cycle

Ashley Dunstan, David Hargreaves, Özer Karagedikli

This article sets out theoretical and empirical evidence on the impact of fiscal policy on the business cycle. Our analysis suggests that fiscal policy has a significant influence on cyclical conditions in New Zealand. Simple measures of the stance of fiscal policy, such as the Treasury's measure of fiscal impulse, are useful, but the details of fiscal initiatives also need to be analysed to determine macroeconomic impact. For example, tax changes can have very different effects: tax cuts designed to spur savings could be mildly contractionary, while company tax cuts will tend to be expansionary. The significance of fiscal changes for monetary policy also depends partly on other factors driving the business cycle.