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A primer on the empirical identification of government spending shocks


  • Kristie M. Engemann
  • Michael T. Owyang
  • Sarah Zubairy


The empirical literature on the effects of government spending shocks lacks unanimity about the responses of consumption and wages. Proponents of shocks identified by structural vector auto-regressions (VARs) find results consistent with New Keynesian models: consumption and wages increase. On the other hand, proponents of the narrative approach find results consistent with neoclassical models: consumption and wages decrease. This paper reviews these two identifications and confirms their differences by using standard economic series. It also uses alternative measures of government spending, output, and the labor market and shows that, although there are minor fluctuations within each identification, the disparate results between the two are robust to the alternative measures. However, under the structural VAR approach, the authors find some differences between the responses to federal and state/local government spending.

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  • Kristie M. Engemann & Michael T. Owyang & Sarah Zubairy, 2008. "A primer on the empirical identification of government spending shocks," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 117-132.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2008:i:mar:p:117-132:n:v.90no.2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrew Mountford & Harald Uhlig, 2009. "What are the effects of fiscal policy shocks?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(6), pages 960-992.
    2. Roberto Perotti, 2008. "In Search of the Transmission Mechanism of Fiscal Policy," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2007, Volume 22, pages 169-226 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Wendy Edelberg & Martin Eichenbaum & Jonas D.M. Fisher, 1999. "Understanding the Effects of a Shock to Government Purchases," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 166-206, January.
    4. Faust, Jon, 1998. "The robustness of identified VAR conclusions about money," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 207-244, December.
    5. Valerie A. Ramey, 2011. "Identifying Government Spending Shocks: It's all in the Timing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 1-50.
    6. 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.
    7. Favero, Carlo A. & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2007. "Debt and the Effects of Fiscal Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 6092, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Fisher, Jonas D. M., 2004. "Fiscal shocks and their consequences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 89-117, March.
    9. Lei Fang & Richard Rogerson, 2009. "Policy Analysis In A Matching Model With Intensive And Extensive Margins," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1153-1168, November.
    10. Paustian Matthias, 2007. "Assessing Sign Restrictions," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-33, August.
    11. Morten Ravn & Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé & Martín Uribe, 2006. "Deep Habits," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 195-218.
    12. Roberto Perotti, 2005. "Estimating the effects of fiscal policy in OECD countries," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    13. Eichenbaum, Martin & Fisher, Jonas D M, 2005. "Fiscal Policy in the Aftermath of 9/11," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(1), pages 1-22, February.
    14. Pappa, Evi, 2005. "New-keynesian or RBC transmission? The effects of fiscal shocks in labour markets," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 524, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2001. "The Effects of Fiscal Policy on Consumption and Employment: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2760, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 2002. "An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1329-1368.
    17. Jon Faust, 1998. "The robustness of identified VAR conclusions about money," International Finance Discussion Papers 610, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    Cited by:

    1. Weonho Yang & Jan Fidrmuc & Sugata Ghosh, 2012. "Macroeconomic Effects of Government Spending Shocks: New Evidence Using Natural Disaster Relief in Korea," CESifo Working Paper Series 3943, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Gerald Carlino & Robert P. Inman, 2013. "Macro Fiscal Policy in Economic Unions: States as Agents," NBER Working Papers 19559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Owyang, Michael T. & Zubairy, Sarah, 2013. "Who benefits from increased government spending? A state-level analysis," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 445-464.
    4. Craig, Steven G. & Hoang, Edward C., 2011. "State government response to income fluctuations: Consumption, insurance, and capital expenditures," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 343-351, July.


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