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Activist fiscal policy to stabilize economic activity

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  • Alan J. Auerbach
  • William G. Gale

Abstract

We review the evidence on the practice and effects of discretionary fiscal policy, particularly in the context of recent efforts to stimulate the economy, reaching two main conclusions. First, policy interventions have increased in this decade, pre-dating the 2009 stimulus. Second, despite a large economic literature on the topic, the state of theory and evidence is not as "shovel ready" as one would like. Although consumption and investment clearly respond to tax incentives and structural vector autoregressions show that lower taxes and higher government purchases can boost output, it is difficult to apply the findings in the current context, in part because multipliers and policy lags are likely to vary with economic conditions. Dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models can be adapted to address extreme economic conditions, but yield an extremely wide range of predicted impacts. The experience from large downturns - the U.S. Great Depression and the Japanese Lost Decade - is illuminating, but provides little evidence about policy effectiveness because systematic and sustained fiscal interventions were not attempted in either case.
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  • Alan J. Auerbach & William G. Gale, 2009. "Activist fiscal policy to stabilize economic activity," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 327-374.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedkpr:y:2009:p:327-374
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    1. Emilia Mioara CAMPEANU, 2012. "How can be investigated the fiscal policy effects on the Romanian economy?," Anale. Seria Stiinte Economice. Timisoara, Faculty of Economics, Tibiscus University in Timisoara, vol. 0, pages 80-87, May.
    2. Jonathan A. Parker, 2011. "On Measuring the Effects of Fiscal Policy in Recessions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 703-718, September.
    3. Hans Fehr & Wolfgang Scherf & Michael Eilfort & Guido Raddatz, 2009. "Haushaltskonsolidierung: Sollte mit dem Ausstieg aus der Verschuldung erst nach Überwindung der Krise begonnen werden?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 62(21), pages 03-12, November.
    4. Jeffrey Clemens & Stephen Miran, 2012. "Fiscal Policy Multipliers on Subnational Government Spending," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 46-68, May.
    5. Thomas A. Garrett & Russell M. Rhine, 2011. "Economic freedom and employment growth in U.S. states," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 1-18.
    6. Raffaella Basile & Bruno Chiarini & Elisabetta Marzano, 2011. "Can we Rely upon Fiscal Policy Estimates in Countries with Unreported Production of 15 Per Cent (or more) of GDP?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3521, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Simone Salotti & Carmine Trecroci, 2012. "Even worse than you thought: The effects of government debt on investment and productivity," EcoMod2012 4200, EcoMod.
    8. repec:eaa:aeinde:v:18:y:2018:i:1_8 is not listed on IDEAS
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    16. Jonathan A. Parker & Nicholas S. Souleles & David S. Johnson & Robert McClelland, 2013. "Consumer Spending and the Economic Stimulus Payments of 2008," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2530-2553, October.
    17. Falguni Pattanaik & Narayan Nayak, 2014. "Economic freedom and economic growth in India: What is the empirical relationship?," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 47(4), pages 275-298, November.
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    19. David Andolfatto, 2010. "Fiscal multipliers in war and in peace," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 121-128.
    20. Nadia Belhaj Hassine-Belghith, 2007. "Exporting , Productive Efficiency and Product Quality: An Empirical Analysis Of the Agricultural Sector in the Mediterranean Countries," Working Papers 711, Economic Research Forum, revised 01 Jan 2007.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fiscal policy ; Economic conditions;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents

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