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What the Government Purchases Multiplier Actually Multiplied in the 2009 Stimulus Package

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  • John F. Cogan
  • John B. Taylor

Abstract

Much of the recent economic debate about the impact of stimulus packages has focused on the size of the crucial government purchases multiplier. But equally crucial is the size of the government purchases multiplicand—the change in government purchases of goods and services that the multiplier actually multiplies. Using new data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and considering developments at both the federal and the state and local level, we find that the government purchases multiplicand through the 2nd quarter of 2010 has been only 2 percent of the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. This increase in government purchases has occurred mainly at the federal level. While states and localities received substantial grants under ARRA, state and local governments have not increased their purchases of goods and services. Instead they reduced borrowing and increased transfer payments. These findings explain why, regardless of the size of a government purchases multiplier, changes in government purchases have had no material effect on the growth of GDP since the time ARRA was enacted. The implication is not that ARRA has been too small, but rather that it failed to increase government consumption expenditures and infrastructure spending as many had predicted from such a large package. A consideration of the counterfactual event that there had not been an ARRA supports the hypothesis that state and local government borrowing would have been higher and purchases would have been about the same in the absence of ARRA.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16505.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Publication status: published as What the Government Purchases Multiplier Actually Multiplied in the 2009 Stimulus Package, (with John F. Cogan), in Government Policies and the Delayed Economic Recovery, Lee Ohanian, John B. Taylor, Ian Wright (Eds,) Hoover Press, Stanford, 2012
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16505

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  1. Cogan, John F. & Cwik, Tobias & Taylor, John B. & Wieland, Volker, 2009. "New Keynesian versus old Keynesian government spending multipliers," Working Paper Series 1090, European Central Bank.
  2. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2011. "What Fiscal Policy is Effective at Zero Interest Rates?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2010, Volume 25, pages 59-112 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robert E. Hall, 2009. "By How Much Does GDP Rise If the Government Buys More Output?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(2 (Fall)), pages 183-249.
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Cited by:
  1. Sylvain Leduc & Daniel Wilson, 2012. "Roads to Prosperity or Bridges to Nowhere? Theory and Evidence on the Impact of Public Infrastructure Investment," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2012, Volume 27, pages 89-142 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hyunseung Oh & Ricardo Reis, 2011. "Targeted Transfers and the Fiscal Response to the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 16775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Tobias Cwik & Volker Wieland, 2011. "Keynesian government spending multipliers and spillovers in the euro area," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 26(67), pages 493-549, 07.
  4. Sylvain Leduc & Daniel Wilson, 2013. "Are state governments roadblocks to federal stimulus? Evidence from highway grants in the 2009 Recovery Act," Working Paper Series 2013-16, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  5. William Dupor, 2013. "Creating jobs via the 2009 recovery act: state medicaid grants compared to broadly-directed spending," Working Papers 2013-035, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  6. Byron Gangnes, 2010. "The Employment Effects of Fiscal Policy: How Costly are ARRA Jobs?," Working Papers 2010-16, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

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