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How Does the US Government Finance Fiscal Shocks?

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  • Antje Berndt
  • Hanno Lustig
  • Şevin Yeltekin

Abstract

We develop a method for identifying and quantifying the fiscal channels that help finance government spending shocks. We define fiscal shocks as surprises in defense spending and show that they are more precisely identified when defense stock data are used in addition to aggregate macroeconomic data. Our results show that in the postwar period, about 9 percent of the US government's unanticipated spending needs were financed by a reduction in the market value of debt and more than 70 percent by an increase in primary surpluses. Additionally, we find that long-term debt is more effective at absorbing fiscal risk than short-term debt. (JEL E62, H56, and H63)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 69-104

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:4:y:2012:i:1:p:69-104

Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.4.1.69
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  1. Isabel Horta Correia & Juan Pablo Nicolini & Pedro Teles, 2003. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy: Equivalence Results," Working Papers w200303, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  2. John Y. Campbell, 1995. "Some Lessons from the Yield Curve," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 129-152, Summer.
  3. Bohn, Henning, 1988. "Why do we have nominal government debt?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 127-140, January.
  4. Hess Chung & Eric M. Leeper, 2007. "What Has Financed Government Debt?," NBER Working Papers 13425, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Christopher Sleet, 2004. "Optimal Taxation with Private Government Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(4), pages 1217-1239.
  6. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 1-27, May.
  7. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior Of U.S. Public Debt And Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963, August.
  8. repec:nbr:nberwo:6197 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Hess, Gregory D, 1993. "A Test of the Theory of Optimal Taxation for the United States, 1869-1989," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(4), pages 712-16, November.
  10. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  11. Campbell, John Y, 1993. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing without Consumption Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 487-512, June.
  12. David S. Bizer & Steven N. Durlauf, 1990. "Testing the Positive Theory of Government Finance," NBER Working Papers 3349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1993. "Common risk factors in the returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-56, February.
  14. Jonas D. M. Fisher & Ryan Peters, 2009. "Using stock returns to identify government spending shocks," Working Paper Series WP-09-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  15. Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "Identifying Government Spending Shocks: It's All in the Timing," NBER Working Papers 15464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. George-Marios Angeletos, 2002. "Fiscal Policy With Noncontingent Debt And The Optimal Maturity Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1105-1131, August.
  17. Christopher Sleet, 2004. "Optimal Taxation with Private Government Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(4), pages 1217-1239, October.
  18. Jegadeesh, Narasimhan & Titman, Sheridan, 1993. " Returns to Buying Winners and Selling Losers: Implications for Stock Market Efficiency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(1), pages 65-91, March.
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Cited by:
  1. George J. Hall & Thomas J. Sargent, 2011. "Interest Rate Risk and Other Determinants of Post-WWII US Government Debt/GDP Dynamics," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 192-214, July.
  2. Alessandro Missale, 2012. "Sovereign debt management and fiscal vulnerabilities," BIS Papers chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Threat of fiscal dominance?, volume 65, pages 157-176 Bank for International Settlements.
  3. Cochrane, John H., 2011. "Understanding policy in the great recession: Some unpleasant fiscal arithmetic," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 2-30, January.

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