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Cycles and trends in U.S. net borrowing flows

  • Nelson H. Barbosa-Filho
  • Codrina Rada von Arnim
  • Lance Taylor
  • Luca Zamparelli

Trend and cyclical patterns of household, business, government, and foreign net borrowing shares of gross domestic product are reviewed using diagrams and covariance decompositions of the identity stating that the sum of the shares equals zero. Household and business net borrowing shares and thereby those sectors' contributions to effective demand are procyclical. Household borrowing over the cycle is led by residential investment. Consumption varies countercyclically, but it is offset by rising taxes as opposed to saving, suggesting that "consumption smoothing" by households as featured in much macro theory is not empirically important. Procyclicality of private net borrowing is countered by a countercyclical government deficit along traditional lines. In terms of trends, "twin" fiscal and foreign deficits appear infrequently, with the household and external deficits being much more closely related. The former is linked to a strong upward trend in health-care spending as a share of disposable income, with a corresponding downward trend in saving after the early 1980s.

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Article provided by M.E. Sharpe, Inc. in its journal Journal of Post Keynesian Economics.

Volume (Year): 30 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 623-648

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Handle: RePEc:mes:postke:v:30:y:2008:i:4:p:623-648
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  1. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, December.
  2. Nelson H. Barbosa-Filho & Lance Taylor, 2006. "Distributive And Demand Cycles In The Us Economy-A Structuralist Goodwin Model," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 389-411, 07.
  3. 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.
  4. Chiarella,Carl & Flaschel,Peter & Franke,Reiner, 2005. "Foundations for a Disequilibrium Theory of the Business Cycle," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521850254, October.
  5. Milton Friedman, 1957. "Introduction to "A Theory of the Consumption Function"," NBER Chapters, in: A Theory of the Consumption Function, pages 1-6 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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