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Debt and the effects of fiscal policy

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  • Carlo Favero
  • Francesco Giavazzi

Abstract

Empirical investigations of the effects of fiscal policy shocks share a common weakness: taxes, government spending and interest rates are assumed to respond to various macroeconomic variables but not to the level of the public debt; moreover the impact of fiscal shocks on the dynamics of the debt-to-GDP ratio are not tracked. We analyze the effects of fiscal shocks allowing for a direct response of taxes, government spending and the cost of debt service to the level of the public debt. We show that omitting such a feedback can result in incorrect estimates of the dynamic effects of fiscal shocks. In particular the absence of an effect of fiscal shocks on long-term interest rates—a frequent finding in research based on VAR’s that omit a debt feedback—can be explained by their mis-specification, especially over samples in which the debt dynamics appears to be unstable. Using data for the U.S. economy and the identification assumption proposed by Blanchard and Perotti (2002) we reconsider the effects of fiscal policy shocks correcting for these shortcomings.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 317.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:317

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  1. Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "Identifying Government Spending Shocks: It's All in the Timing," NBER Working Papers 15464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 1999. "An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output," NBER Working Papers 7269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Giavazzi, Francesco & Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 2000. "Searching for Non-Linear Effects of Fiscal Policy: Evidence from Industrial and Developing Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 2374, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Mountford, Andrew & Uhlig, Harald, 2002. "What are the Effects of Fiscal Policy Shocks?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3338, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Jonas Fisher, 2003. "Fiscal Shocks and Their Consequences," NBER Working Papers 9772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Roberto Perotti, 2008. "In Search of the Transmission Mechanism of Fiscal Policy," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2007, Volume 22, pages 169-226 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Fabio C. Bagliano & Carlo A. Favero, . "Information from financial markets and VAR measures of monetary policy," Working Papers 135, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  9. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2008. "Are Structural VARs with Long-Run Restrictions Useful in Developing Business Cycle Theory?," NBER Working Papers 14430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1989. "Does Monetary Policy Matter? A New Test in the Spirit of Friedman and Schwartz," NBER Working Papers 2966, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Wendy Edelberg & Martin Eichenbaum & Jonas D.M. Fisher, 1998. "Understanding the Effects of a Shock to Government Purchases," NBER Working Papers 6737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2001. "The Effects of Fiscal Policy on Consumption and Employment: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2760, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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