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Deficits, Public Debt Dynamics and Tax and Spending Multipliers

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  • Matthew Denes
  • Gauti B. Eggertsson
  • Sophia Gilbukh

Abstract

Cutting government spending on goods and services increases the budget deficit if the nominal interest rate is close to zero. This is the message of a simple but standard New Keynesian DSGE model calibrated with Bayesian methods. The cut in spending reduces output and thus—holding rates for labor and sales taxes constant—reduces revenues by even more than what is saved by the spending cut. Similarly, increasing sales taxes can increase the budget deficit rather than reduce it. Both results suggest limitations of “austerity measures” in low interest rate economies to cut budget deficits. Running budget deficits can by itself be either expansionary or contractionary for output, depending on how deficits interact with expectations about the long run in the model. If deficits trigger expectations of i) lower long-run government spending, ii) higher long-run sales taxes, or iii) higher future inflation, they are expansionary. If deficits trigger expectations of higher long-run labor taxes or lower long-run productivity, they are contractionary.
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Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Denes & Gauti B. Eggertsson & Sophia Gilbukh, 2013. "Deficits, Public Debt Dynamics and Tax and Spending Multipliers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages 133-163, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v::y:2013:i::p:133-163
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    1. Davig, Troy & Leeper, Eric M., 2011. "Monetary-fiscal policy interactions and fiscal stimulus," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 211-227, February.
    2. Isabel Correia & Emmanuel Farhi & Juan Pablo Nicolini & Pedro Teles, 2013. "Unconventional Fiscal Policy at the Zero Bound," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1172-1211, June.
    3. Lawrence Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2011. "When Is the Government Spending Multiplier Large?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(1), pages 78-121.
    4. Cogan, John F. & Cwik, Tobias & Taylor, John B. & Wieland, Volker, 2010. "New Keynesian versus old Keynesian government spending multipliers," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 281-295, March.
    5. Karel R. S. M. Mertens & Morten O. Ravn, 2014. "Fiscal Policy in an Expectations-Driven Liquidity Trap," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(4), pages 1637-1667.
    6. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Kahn, Charles M, 1980. "The Solution of Linear Difference Models under Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1305-1311, July.
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