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This paper examines why fiscal policy is procyclical in developing as well as developed countries. The authors introduce the concept of fiscal transparency into a model of retrospective voting, in which a political agency problem between voters and politicians generates a procyclical bias in government spending. The introduction of fiscal transparency generates two new predictions: the procyclical bias in fiscal policy arises only in good times; and a higher degree of fiscal transparency reduces the bias in good times. They find solid empirical support for both predictions using data on both OECD countries and a broader set of countries.
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