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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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  1. Rendahl, P., 2012. "Fiscal Policy in an Unemployment Crisis," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1211, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  2. Michael T. Owyang & Valerie A. Ramey & Sarah Zubairy, 2013. "Are government spending multipliers greater during periods of slack? evidence from 20th century historical data," Working Papers 2013-004, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  3. Òscar Jordà & Moritz HP. Schularick & Alan M. Taylor, 2011. "When Credit Bites Back: Leverage, Business Cycles, and Crises," NBER Working Papers 17621, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ardagna, Silvia, 2004. "Fiscal Stabilizations: When Do They Work and Why," Scholarly Articles 2580047, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2010. "The Credibility Revolution in Empirical Economics: How Better Research Design is taking the Con out of Econometrics," CEP Discussion Papers dp0976, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Miguel Almunia & Agustín Bénétrix & Barry Eichengreen & Kevin H. O'Rourke & Gisela Rua, 2010. "From Great Depression to Great Credit Crisis: similarities, differences and lessons," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 25, pages 219-265, 04.
  8. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2010. "Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 16311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Under Exogeneity: A Review," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 4-29, February.
  10. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2011. "Fiscal Stimulus in a Monetary Union: Evidence from U.S. Regions," NBER Working Papers 17391, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2011. "Fiscal Multipliers in Recession and Expansion," NBER Working Papers 17447, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Pablo Hernández de Cos & Enrique Moral-Benito, 2011. "Endogenous fiscal consolidations," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 1102, Banco de Espa�a.
  13. Guido Imbens, 2000. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Using the Estimated Propensity Score," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1166, Econometric Society.
  14. Roberto Perotti, 1999. "Fiscal Policy In Good Times And Bad," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1399-1436, November.
  15. Òscar Jordà & Alan M. Taylor, 2011. "Performance Evaluation of Zero Net-Investment Strategies," NBER Working Papers 17150, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Bryan S. Graham & Cristine Campos de Xavier Pinto & Daniel Egel, 2008. "Inverse Probability Tilting for Moment Condition Models with Missing Data," NBER Working Papers 13981, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Daniel Leigh & Andrea Pescatori & Jaime Guajardo, 2011. "Expansionary Austerity New International Evidence," IMF Working Papers 11/158, International Monetary Fund.
  18. 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.
  19. Meyer, Bruce D, 1995. "Natural and Quasi-experiments in Economics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 151-61, April.
  20. 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.
  21. Michael T. Owyang & Valerie A. Ramey & Sarah Zubairy, 2013. "Are Government Spending Multipliers Greater during Periods of Slack? Evidence from Twentieth-Century Historical Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 129-34, May.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. How to muddy the waters on impact of austerity
    by Mainly Macro in Mainly Macro on 2014-08-01 13:06:00
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Cited by:
  1. Anusha Chari & Peter Blair Henry, 2014. "Two Tales of Adjustment: East Asian Lessons for European Growth," Working Papers 14-04, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  2. Forbes, Kristin & Fratzscher, Marcel & Straub, Roland, 2014. "Capital Controls and Macroprudential Measures: What Are They Good For?," CEPR Discussion Papers 9798, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Nicholas Oulton, 2013. "Medium and Long Run Prospects for UK Growth in the Aftermath of the Financial Crisis," CEP Occasional Papers 37, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. 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.
  5. 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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  1. The Time for Austerity: Estimating the Average Treatment Effect of Fiscal Policy (NBER 2013) in ReplicationWiki

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