Fiscal policy

Fiscal policy

Fiscal policy promotes economic growth, stabilises prices, and protects the dollar’s purchasing power. Governments often use it to encourage healthy, long-term growth and lower poverty. By boosting government spending or reducing taxes, the government can inject more money into the economy, encouraging consumer spending and business investment. As a powerful tool for managing the economy, fiscal policy is employed by governments worldwide to foster stability and growth. 

What is fiscal policy? 

Fiscal policy refers to the government’s use of taxation and spending to influence the economy. It is crucial in promoting economic growth, curbing inflation, and maintaining economic stability. Achieving macroeconomic objectives, including price stability, full employment, and economic growth, is the primary goal of fiscal policy. Fiscal policy is one of the most crucial government tools for controlling the economy. 

 

Understanding fiscal policy 

Any adjustment to the government budget has a disproportionately negative economic impact on some demographics; for example, tax relief for families with kids increases their discretionary income. 

Nonetheless, debates on fiscal policy typically centre on how adjustments to the federal budget affect the nation’s economy. The term “fiscal policy” is typically used to describe the impact on the aggregate economy of the overall spending and taxation levels and, more specifically, the gap between them.  

Changes in taxes or spending may be “revenue neutral” but may be interpreted as fiscal policy and may influence the aggregate output level by changing the incentives that firms or individuals face—and more specifically, the gap between them. 

When revenue exceeds expenditures (the government budget is in surplus), fiscal policy is considered tight or contractionary, and loose or expansionary when spending exceeds revenue (ie the budget is in deficit).  

Frequently, the variation in the deficit is the main concern rather than its level. So, even if the budget is still in deficit, a deficit decrease from 200 billion US$ to 100 billion US$ is referred to as contractionary fiscal policy. 

Types of fiscal policy 

Fiscal policy

The two primary categories of fiscal policy are: 

  • Expansionary fiscal policy 

The use of government expenditure, transfer payments, or tax reductions to promote economic growth is referred to as an expansionary fiscal policy. This policy is frequently employed when there is a lack of demand in the economy during a recession or downturn.  

An expansionary fiscal strategy aims to boost economic growth and aggregate demand. Increasing government investment in infrastructure, offering unemployment insurance, or lowering taxes for individuals and businesses are a few instances of expansionary fiscal policy. 

  • Contractionary fiscal policy 

To decrease the economy’s overall demand, the government may utilise tax increases, reductions in transfer payments, or spending cuts. This strategy is frequently employed during periods of economic growth to stop inflation or cool an overheated economy. The contractionary fiscal policy seeks to lower both inflation and overall demand.  

Reducing government spending on non-essential programmes, cutting transfer payments like subsidies or social welfare programmes, or raising taxes on individuals or corporations are some instances of contractionary fiscal policy. 

Components of fiscal policy 

The three fundamental pillars of fiscal policy are transfers, taxes, and government spending. Below is a quick breakdown of each element: 

  • Spending by the government 

This is the sum the government spends on products and services. Government spending on things like infrastructure, education, and healthcare can be utilised to boost economic growth. Assisting people and companies can also boost the economy during a downturn. 

  • Taxation  

Taxes comprise money that people and organisations hand over to the government. Governments can utilise taxes to fund public goods and services and lessen economic inequality. By raising taxes to discourage consumer spending and limit inflation, the government can also utilise taxation to cool an overheating economy. 

  • Transfer payments  

The term “transfer payments” describes sums of money the government gives to people or organisations. Subsidies, welfare payments, and unemployment compensation are a few examples of transfer payments. By helping businesses, governments can use transfer payments to support low-income people and promote economic growth. 

How fiscal policy works 

When the government taxes people, they have less money to spend, which can lead to a decrease in demand. When the government spends money, it can increase demand.  

The two main components of fiscal policy are discretionary spending and mandatory spending. Discretionary spending is the portion of the budget set each year by the legislative branch, while mandatory spending is the portion set by law and not subject to annual review. 

The government can also influence the economy by changing the money supply. When the money supply is increased, it can lead to inflation. When the money supply is decreased, it can lead to a recession. 

Thus, fiscal policy is a powerful tool the government can use to stabilise the economy. However, it can also be used to manipulate the economy for political gain. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Governments utilise fiscal and monetary policies to control the economy, but they do it differently. Government spending and taxation are used in fiscal policy to impact the economy, whereas interest rates, the money supply, and credit are used in monetary policy to control the economy. Governments typically conduct fiscal policy, but the central bank controls monetary policy. 

A tax increase may benefit the economy if the government uses it to finance infrastructure improvements or other programmes that promote economic expansion. This investment may increase demand for goods and services, generate employment opportunities, and stimulate economic activity. Yet, sometimes a tax increase might have the opposite effect and reduce economic activity by reducing consumer spending. 

Usually, the government or the legislative branch is in charge of fiscal policy. The treasury department or the finance ministry is often responsible for creating and carrying out fiscal policy. The government and the central bank may share responsibilities for fiscal policy in some nations. 

Taxation, spending by the government, and transfer payments are the three basic fiscal policy instruments. By changing the amount of money flowing through the economy, governments can utilise these weapons to affect the economy. For instance, the government may increase expenditures and lower taxes to boost economic growth during a recession. The government may cut spending and raise taxes to stop inflation during an economic boom. 

 

The lives of people can be significantly impacted by fiscal policies. For instance, government investment in infrastructure projects can boost employment and raise the standard of living for citizens. Welfare payments and other transfer payments can help low-income people and families. By lowering their discretionary income or raising the price of products and services, taxes can also have an impact on people’s lives. Overall, fiscal policy is crucial in determining how the economy develops. 

 

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