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Drawing on the European Commission's Autumn forecasts, the author estimate fiscal reaction functions with four different information sets, ranging from budget plans to final outcomes. The author also analyse deviations from plans during budget implementation. In a panel of 15 EU countries from 1987 to 2006, moving from plans to final data generally weakens the counter-cyclicality of budget balances and expenditures (though not of revenues), and reinforces electoral effects. Deviations from plans play a negligible role in the former finding, as they are often acyclical; but have a major role in the latter, as they display a clear opportunistic pattern.
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