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The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks

  • Christina D. Romer
  • David H. Romer

This paper investigates the impact of tax changes on economic activity. We use the narrative record, such as presidential speeches and Congressional reports, to identify the size, timing, and principal motivation for all major postwar tax policy actions. This analysis allows us to separate legislated changes into those taken for reasons related to prospective economic conditions and those taken for more exogenous reasons. The behavior of output following these more exogenous changes indicates that tax increases are highly contractionary. The effects are strongly significant, highly robust, and much larger than those obtained using broader measures of tax changes. (JEL E32, E62, H20, N12)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 763-801

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:3:p:763-801
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.3.763
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  1. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Adjustments in OECD Countries: Composition and Macroeconomic Effects," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 44(2), pages 210-248, June.
  2. Steven M. Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & BRUCE C. PETERSEN, 1988. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 141-206.
  3. 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.
  4. Ben S. Bernanke & Ilian Mihov, 1995. "Measuring monetary policy," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 95-09, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
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  7. Ramey, Valerie A. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1998. "Costly capital reallocation and the effects of government spending," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 145-194, June.
  8. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1995. "The [un]importance of forward-looking behavior in price specifications," Working Papers 95-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  9. Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
  10. Karl Whelan & Jeremy Rudd, 2003. "Can Rational Expectations Sticky-Price Models Explain Inflation Dynamics?," Computing in Economics and Finance 2003 181, Society for Computational Economics.
  11. Oliner, Stephen & Rudebusch, Glenn & Sichel, Daniel, 1995. "New and Old Models of Business Investment: A Comparison of Forecasting Performance," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(3), pages 806-26, August.
  12. Roberto Perotti, 1999. "Fiscal Policy In Good Times And Bad," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1399-1436, November.
  13. Giavazzi, Francesco & Pagano, Marco, 1990. "Can Severe Fiscal Contractions Be Expansionary? Tales of Two Small European Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 417, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "The Reaction of Household Consumption to Predictable Changes in Social Security Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 959-973, September.
  15. Romer, Christina D. & Romer, David H., 1994. "Monetary policy matters," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 75-88, August.
  16. Robert J. Gordon, 1996. "The Time-Varying NAIRU and its Implications for Economic Policy," NBER Working Papers 5735, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2004. "A New Measure of Monetary Shocks: Derivation and Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1055-1084, September.
  18. David S. Johnson & Jonathan A. Parker & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2004. "Household Expenditure and the Income Tax Rebates of 2001," Working Papers 136, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
  19. Leonall C. Andersen & Jerry L. Jordon, 1968. "Monetary and fiscal actions: a test of their relative importance in economic stabilization," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 11-23.
  20. Alan J. Auerbach, 2000. "Formation of fiscal policy: the experience of the past twenty-five years," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Apr, pages 9-23.
  21. William G. Gale & Peter R. Orszag, 2004. "Budget Deficits, National Saving, and Interest Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 35(2), pages 101-210.
  22. Cardia, Emanuela, 1997. "Replicating Ricardian Equivalence Tests with Simulated Series," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 65-79, March.
  23. Kormendi, Roger C, 1983. "Government Debt, Government Spending, and Private Sector Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 994-1010, December.
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