46th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Enlargement, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean", August 30th - September 3rd, 2006, Volos, Greece
In an period of heightened concern about fiscal consolidation in the Euro zone, a politically expedient way of dealing with the situation is to cut public investment. A critical question, however, is whether or not political expediency comes at a cost, in terms of both long-term economic performance and future budgetary consolidation efforts. In fact, one would expect any type of investment, including public investment, to improve the long-term economic performance. Moreover, to the extent that public investment increases output in the long-term, it also expands the tax base and, therefore, tax revenues in the long term. It is conceivable that public investment has such strong effects on output, that over time it generates enough additional tax revenues to pay for itself. It is equally plausible that the effects on output although positive are not strong enough for the public investment to pay for itself. In the first case, cuts in public investment hurt long-term growth and make the future budgetary situation worse. In the second case, cuts in public investment hurt the long-term economic performance without hurting the future budgetary situation. In this paper we investigate this question empirically in the context of a number of countries in the Euro zone using a vector auto-regressive/error correction mechanism approach to determine the effects of aggregated public investment on output, employment and private investment. Our ultimate objective is to determine in which regime do the different countries seem to fit and determine to what extent cuts in public investment may turn out to be counter-productive in the long-term from a budgetary perspective.