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The time for austerity: estimating the average treatment effect of fiscal policy

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  • Òscar Jordà
  • Alan M. Taylor

Abstract

Elevated government debt levels in advanced economies have risen rapidly as sovereigns absorbed private sector losses and cyclical deficits blew up in the Global Financial Crisis and subsequent slump. A rush to fiscal austerity followed but its justifications and impacts have been heavily debated. Research on the effects of austerity on macroeconomic aggregates remains unsettled, mired by the difficulty of identifying multipliers from observational data. This paper reconciles seemingly disparate estimates of multipliers within a unified framework. We do this by first evaluating the validity of common identification assumptions used by the literature and find that they are largely violated in the data. Next, we use new propensity score methods for time-series data with local projections to quantify how contractionary austerity really is, especially in economies operating below potential. We find that the adverse effects of austerity may have been understated.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Paper Series with number 2013-25.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2013-25

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Keywords: Fiscal policy;

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References

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  1. Ardagna, Silvia, 2004. "Fiscal Stabilizations: When Do They Work and Why," Scholarly Articles 2580047, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Jonathan A. Parker, 2011. "On Measuring the Effects of Fiscal Policy in Recessions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 703-18, September.
  3. Emi Nakamura & J?n Steinsson, 2014. "Fiscal Stimulus in a Monetary Union: Evidence from US Regions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 753-92, March.
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  5. Jordà, Òscar & Schularick, Moritz & Taylor, Alan M., 2011. "When Credit Bites Back: Leverage, Business Cycles, and Crises," CEPR Discussion Papers 8678, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Miguel Almunia & Agustín S. Bénétrix & Barry Eichengreen & Kevin H. O'Rourke & Gisela Rua, 2009. "From Great Depression to Great Credit Crisis: Similarities, Differences and Lessons," NBER Working Papers 15524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Guido Imbens, 2000. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Using the Estimated Propensity Score," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1166, Econometric Society.
  9. Leeper, Eric M., 1997. "Narrative and VAR approaches to monetary policy: Common identification problems," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 641-657, December.
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  11. Daniel Leigh & Andrea Pescatori & Jaime Guajardo, 2011. "Expansionary Austerity New International Evidence," IMF Working Papers 11/158, International Monetary Fund.
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  15. Guido W. Imbens, 2003. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects under Exogeneity: A Review," NBER Technical Working Papers 0294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Paul Krugman, 2012. "Debt, Deleveraging, and the Liquidity Trap: A Fisher-Minsky-Koo Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1469-1513.
  17. Michael T. Owyang & Valerie A. Ramey & Sarah Zubairy, 2013. "Are Government Spending Multipliers Greater During Periods of Slack? Evidence from 20th Century Historical Data," NBER Working Papers 18769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Anusha Chari & Peter Blair Henry, 2014. "Two Tales of Adjustment: East Asian Lessons for European Growth," NBER Working Papers 19840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kristin Forbes & Marcel Fratzscher & Roland Straub, 2013. "Capital Controls and Macroprudential Measures: What Are They Good For?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1343, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Giuseppe Bertola & John Driffill & Harold James & Hans-Werner Sinn & Jan-Egbert Sturm & Ákos Valentinyi, 2014. "Chapter 3: Austerity: Hurting but Helping," EEAG Report on the European Economy, CESifo Group Munich, vol. 0, pages 75-90, 02.
  4. Manos Matsaganis & Chrysa Leventi, 2014. "Distributive Effects of the Crisis and Austerity in Seven EU Countries," ImPRovE Working Papers 14/04, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.

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