KDI 정책연구. Vol. 23, No. 1·2, December 2001, pp. 73-147
The structural balance is obtained by neutralizing the impact of economic cycles on the actual balance. It is often used as an indicator of the long-term stability of government finance and as a measure of fiscal stance. Many countries nowadays produce and report the estimates of their structural balances regularly, and the IMF recently advised the Korean government to adopt this practice for better fiscal transparency. This paper surveys the methodologies employed by the OECD secretariat and the IMF to estimate structural balances and apply them to the Korean data. It then computers the fiscal impulse indicator (FI) and suggests a decomposition if FI into the changes in structural ecpenditures and revenues. In addition, primary and operational balances are estimated. The estimated series of structural balances, one by the OECD methodoldgy and the other by the IMF, show no sizable difference from each other. These series also follow the actual series of budget balance quite closely. The latter characteristic stems from two factors, namely the rather small GDP gap and the rather small size of the tax revenue as a share of GDP. The impulse indicator estimated for the three decades indicates that the fiscal stance in Korea contributed to smoothing the economic cycles on about half of the times. In particular, the fiscal tightening in the early 1980s to reduce inflation resulted in a pro-cyclical movement in fiscal stance as did the expansionary policy in the early 1990s. The overall performance, however, is not bad when compared with those of other countries.