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Passive Savers and Fiscal Policy Effectiveness in Japan

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  • Kenneth N. Kuttner

    ()
    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

  • Adam S. Posen

    ()
    (Institute for International Economics)

Abstract

The efficacy of fiscal policy in Japan in the last decade has been a subject of considerable dispute, and the coincidence of mounting deficits and continued stagnation has led some to conclude that fiscal policy was ineffective. This paper finds ample support for the opposite conclusion: exogenous fiscal policy shocks (as derived from a structural vector-autoregression model) had pronounced real effects in Japan. Expansionary fiscal policy was expansionary, and contractionary policy contractionary, consistent with the implications of conventional macroeconomic theory. A historical decomposition shows that Japan’s burgeoning public debt stems almost entirely from the recession-caused slowdown in revenue growth, and that fiscal policy was at times procyclical rather than consistently expansionary. Direct examination of the long-run relationship between private saving, taxes, and spending confirms that any Ricardian effects of future public liabilities on saving were insufficient to offset the direct first-order effects of taxes and public expenditures. The passivity of Japanese savers therefore seems to have contributed to the efficacy of fiscal policy; otherwise, some combination of increased saving, capital outflow, and higher interest rates would have diminished its impact.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Peterson Institute for International Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number WP02-2.

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Date of creation: May 2002
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Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp02-2

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Keywords: Fiscal Policy; Japan; Ricardian Equivalence; Budget Deficits;

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References

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  1. Francesco Giavazzi & Marco Pagano, 1990. "Can Severe Fiscal Contractions Be Expansionary? Tales of two Small Euopean Countries," Working Papers 89, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
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  4. Claude Giorno & Pete Richardson & Deborah Roseveare & Paul van den Noord, 1995. "Estimating Potential Output, Output Gaps and Structural Budget Balances," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 152, OECD Publishing.
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  12. Buiter, Willem H & Kletzer, Kenneth M, 1992. "Who's Afraid of the Public Debt?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 290-94, May.
  13. Horioka, Charles Yuji & Kasuga, Norihiro & Yamazaki, Katsuyo & Watanabe, Wako, 1996. "Do the Aged Dissave in Japan? Evidence from Micro Data," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 295-311, September.
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  16. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Willi Leibfritz, 1998. "An International Comparison of Generational Accounts," NBER Working Papers 6447, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  19. repec:fth:osakae:402 is not listed on IDEAS
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Cited by:
  1. Ryuta Ray Kato & Hiroaki Miyamoto, 2012. "Fiscal Stimulus and Labor Market Dynamics in Japan," Working Papers EMS_2012_19, Research Institute, International University of Japan.
  2. Heshmati, Almas & Kim, Jungsuk, 2014. "A Survey of the Role of Fiscal Policy in Addressing Income Inequality, Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 8119, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Miyagawa, Tsutomu & Ito, Yukiko & Harada, Nobuyuki, 2004. "The IT revolution and productivity growth in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 362-389, September.
  4. George Evans & Eran Guse & Seppo Honkapohja, 2007. "Liquidity Traps, Learning and Stagnation," Kiel Working Papers 1341, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  5. Kiichi Tokuoka & Murtaza H. Syed & Kenneth Kang, 2009. "“Lost Decade†in Translation," IMF Working Papers 09/282, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Morana, Claudio, 2004. "The Japanese stagnation: an assessment of the productivity slowdown hypothesis," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 193-211, April.
  7. Canale Rosaria Rita & Foresti Pasquale & Marani Ugo & Napolitano Oreste, 2008. "On keynesian effects of (apparent) non-keynesian fiscal policies," Politica economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 5-46.
  8. Inoue, Tomoo & Okimoto, Tatsuyoshi, 2008. "Were there structural breaks in the effects of Japanese monetary policy? Re-evaluating policy effects of the lost decade," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 320-342, September.
  9. Sylvain Leduc & Daniel J. Wilson, 2012. "Should transportation spending be included in a stimulus program? a review of the literature," Working Paper Series 2012-15, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

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