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What the Government Purchases Multiplier Actually Multiplied in the 2009 Stimulus Package

In: Government Policies and the Delayed Economic Recovery

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  • John F. Cogan
  • John B. Taylor

Abstract

Much of the recent economic debate about the impact of stimulus packages has focused on the size of the crucial government purchases multiplier. But equally crucial is the size of the government purchases multiplicand—the change in government purchases of goods and services that the multiplier actually multiplies. Using new data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and considering developments at both the federal and the state and local level, we find that the government purchases multiplicand through the 2nd quarter of 2010 has been only 2 percent of the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. This increase in government purchases has occurred mainly at the federal level. While states and localities received substantial grants under ARRA, state and local governments have not increased their purchases of goods and services. Instead they reduced borrowing and increased transfer payments. These findings explain why, regardless of the size of a government purchases multiplier, changes in government purchases have had no material effect on the growth of GDP since the time ARRA was enacted. The implication is not that ARRA has been too small, but rather that it failed to increase government consumption expenditures and infrastructure spending as many had predicted from such a large package. A consideration of the counterfactual event that there had not been an ARRA supports the hypothesis that state and local government borrowing would have been higher and purchases would have been about the same in the absence of ARRA.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Lee E. Ohanian & John B. Taylor & Ian J. Wright (ed.), 2012. "Government Policies and the Delayed Economic Recovery," Books, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, number 6.
    This item is provided by Hoover Institution, Stanford University in its series Book Chapters with number 6-5.

    Handle: RePEc:hoo:bookch:6-5

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. John Cogan & Tobias Cwik & John Taylor & Volker Wieland, 2009. "New Keynesian Versus Old Keynesian Government Spending Multipliers," Discussion Papers 08-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    2. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2011. "What Fiscal Policy is Effective at Zero Interest Rates?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2010, Volume 25, pages 59-112 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Robert E. Hall, 2009. "By How Much Does GDP Rise if the Government Buys More Output?," NBER Working Papers 15496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Byron Gangnes, 2010. "The Employment Effects of Fiscal Policy: How Costly are ARRA Jobs?," Working Papers 2010-16, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
    2. Cwik, Tobias & Wieland, Volker, 2010. "Keynesian government spending multipliers and spillovers in the euro area," Working Paper Series 1267, European Central Bank.
    3. Sylvain Leduc & Daniel Wilson, 2013. "Are state governments roadblocks to federal stimulus? Evidence from highway grants in the 2009 Recovery Act," Working Paper Series 2013-16, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    4. Oh, Hyunseung & Reis, Ricardo, 2011. "Targeted transfers and the fiscal response to the great recession," CEPR Discussion Papers 8239, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Sylvain Leduc & Daniel Wilson, 2012. "Roads to prosperity or bridges to nowhere? theory and evidence on the impact of public infrastructure investment," Working Paper Series 2012-04, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    6. William Dupor, 2013. "Creating jobs via the 2009 recovery act: state medicaid grants compared to broadly-directed spending," Working Papers 2013-035, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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