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The unintended consequences of the debt: Will increased government expenditure hurt the economy?

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  • Werner, Richard A.
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    Abstract

    In 2008, governments in many countries embarked on large fiscal expenditure programmes, with the intention to support the economy and prevent a more serious recession. In this study, the overall impact of a substantial increase in fiscal expenditure is considered by providing a novel analysis of the most relevant recent experience in similar circumstances, namely that of Japan in the 1990s. Then a weak economy with risk-averse banks seemed to require some of the largest peacetime fiscal stimulation programmes on record, albeit with disappointing results. The explanations provided by the literature and their unsatisfactory empirical record are reviewed. An alternative explanation, derived from early Keynesian models on the ineffectiveness of fiscal policy is presented in the form of a modified Fisher-equation, which incorporates the recent findings in the credit view literature. The model postulates complete quantity crowding out. It is subjected to empirical tests, which were supportive. Thus evidence is found that fiscal policy, if not supported by suitable monetary policy, is likely to crowd out private sector demand, even in an environment of falling or near-zero interest rates. As a policy conclusion it is pointed out that by changing the funding strategy, complete crowding out can be avoided and a positive net effect produced. The proposed framework creates common ground between proponents of Keynesian views (as held, among others, by Blinder and Solow), monetarist views (as held in particular by Milton Friedman) and those of leading contemporary macroeconomists (such as Mankiw). --

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Center for Financial Studies (CFS) in its series CFS Working Paper Series with number 2011/26.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:cfswop:201126

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    Keywords: Credit; Crowding Out; Equation of Exchange; Fiscal Policy; Japan; Monetarism; Monetary Policy; Quantity Equation;

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    1. Blinder, Alan S. & Solow, Robert M., 1973. "Does fiscal policy matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 319-337.
    2. Milton Friedman, 1971. "A Theoretical Framework for Monetary Analysis," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie71-1, October.
    3. Goldfeld, Stephen M. & Sichel, Daniel E., 1990. "The demand for money," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: B. M. Friedman & F. H. Hahn (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 299-356 Elsevier.
    4. Asako, Kazumi & Ito, Takatoshi & Sakamoto, Kazunori, 1991. "The rise and fall of deficit in Japan, 1965-1990," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 451-472, December.
    5. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1993. "The role of credit market imperfections in the monetary transmission mechanism: arguments and evidence," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 93-5, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    6. Barry, Frank & Devereux, Michael B., 2003. "Expansionary fiscal contraction: A theoretical exploration," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 1-23, March.
    7. John A. Tatom, 1985. "Two views of the effects of government budget deficits in the 1980s," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Oct, pages 5-16.
    8. Ben S. Bernanke & Mark Gertler, 1995. "Inside the Black Box: The Credit Channel of Monetary Policy Transmission," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 27-48, Fall.
    9. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    10. James M. Boughton, 1991. "Long-Run Money Demand in Large Industrial Countries," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 38(1), pages 1-32, March.
    11. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
    12. Ludvigson, Sydney, 1996. "The macroeconomic effects of government debt in a stochastic growth model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 25-45, August.
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