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Deficits, public debt dynamics, and tax and spending multipliers

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  • Matthew Denes
  • Gauti B. Eggertsson
  • Sophia Gilbukh

Abstract

Cutting government spending on goods and services increases the budget deficit if the nominal interest rate is close to zero. This is the message of a simple but standard New Keynesian DSGE model calibrated with Bayesian methods. The cut in spending reduces output and thus—holding rates for labor and sales taxes constant—reduces revenues by even more than what is saved by the spending cut. Similarly, increasing sales taxes can increase the budget deficit rather than reduce it. Both results suggest limitations of “austerity measures” in low interest rate economies to cut budget deficits. Running budget deficits can by itself be either expansionary or contractionary for output, depending on how deficits interact with expectations about the long run in the model. If deficits trigger expectations of i) lower long-run government spending, ii) higher long-run sales taxes, or iii) higher future inflation, they are expansionary. If deficits trigger expectations of higher long-run labor taxes or lower long-run productivity, they are contractionary.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 551.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:551

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Keywords: Keynesian economics ; Taxation ; Interest rates ; Budget deficits ; Deficit financing ; Government spending policy ; Liquidity (Economics);

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  1. Isabel Correia & Emmanuel Farhi & Juan Pablo Nicolini & Pedro Teles, 2013. "Unconventional Fiscal Policy at the Zero Bound," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1172-1211, June.
  2. Mertens, Karel & Ravn, Morten O., 2010. "Fiscal Policy in an Expectations Driven Liquidity Trap," CEPR Discussion Papers 7931, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Troy Davig & Eric M. Leeper, 2009. "Monetary-Fiscal Policy Interactions and Fiscal Stimulus," NBER Working Papers 15133, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2010. "When is the government spending multiplier large?," CQER Working Paper 2010-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  5. Todd B. Walker & Nora Traum & Eric M. Leeper, 2011. "The Fiscal Multiplier Morass: A Bayesian Perspective," 2011 Meeting Papers 583, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Kahn, Charles M, 1980. "The Solution of Linear Difference Models under Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1305-11, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Jae Sim & Raphael Schoenle & Egon Zakrajsek & Simon Gilchrist, 2013. "Inflation Dynamics During the Financial Crisis," 2013 Meeting Papers 826, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Schmidt, Sebastian, 2014. "Fiscal activism and the zero nominal interest rate bound," Working Paper Series 1653, European Central Bank.
  3. Burgert, Matthias & Schmidt, Sebastian, 2013. "Dealing with a liquidity trap when government debt matters: optimal time-consistent monetary and fiscal policy," Working Paper Series 1622, European Central Bank.

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