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What Ends Recessions?

In: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1994, Volume 9

  • Christina D. Romer
  • David H. Romer

This paper analyzes the contributions of monetary and fiscal policy to postwar economic recoveries. We find that the Federal Reserve typically responds to downturns with prompt and large reductions in interest rates. Discretionary fiscal policy, in contrast, rarely reacts before the trough in economic activity, and even then the responses are usually small. Simulations using multipliers from both simple regressions and a large macroeconomic model show that the interest rate falls account for nearly all of the above-average growth that occurs early in recoveries. Our estimates also indicate that on several occasions expansionary policies have contributed substantially to above-normal growth outside of recoveries. Finally, the results suggest that the persistence of aggregate output movements is largely the result of the extreme persistence of the contribution of policy changes.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Stanley Fischer & Julio J. Rotemberg, 1994. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1994, Volume 9," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fisc94-1, May.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11007.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11007
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.orgEmail:


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    1. Campbell, John & Mankiw, Gregory, 1987. "Are Output Fluctuations Transitory?," Scholarly Articles 3122545, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    2. Ben Bernanke, 1990. "The Federal Funds Rate and the Channels of Monetary Transnission," NBER Working Papers 3487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. David B. Gordon & Eric M. Leeper, 1992. "The dynamic impacts of monetary policy: an exercise in tentative identification," Working Paper 92-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    4. Sargent, Thomas J, 1976. "The Observational Equivalence of Natural and Unnatural Rate Theories of Macroeconomics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(3), pages 631-40, June.
    5. Romer, Christina D. & Romer, David H., 1994. "Monetary policy matters," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 75-88, August.
    6. Sims, Christopher A, 1972. "Money, Income, and Causality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 540-52, September.
    7. Gordon, Robert J, 1990. "What Is New-Keynesian Economics?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 1115-71, September.
    8. Robert G. King & Mark W. Watson, 1997. "Testing long-run neutrality," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 69-101.
    9. De Long, James Bradford & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "Is Increased Price Flexibility Stabilizing?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1031-44, December.
    10. Daniel E. Sichel, 1992. "Inventories and the three phases of the business cycle," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 128, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    11. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1989. "Unit roots in real GNP: do we know, and do we care?," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 18, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    12. Romer, Christina D. & Romer, David H., 1989. "Does Monetary Policy Matter? A New Test in the Spirit of Friedman and Schwartz," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt5h07k8vf, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    13. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Danny Quah, 1988. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbance," Working papers 497, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    14. George L. Perry & Charles L. Schultze, 1993. "Was This Recession Different? Are They All Different?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 24(1), pages 145-212.
    15. Cochrane, John H, 1994. "Permanent and Transitory Components of GNP and Stock Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 241-65, February.
    16. Goldfeld, Stephen M. & Sichel, Daniel E., 1990. "The demand for money," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: B. M. Friedman & F. H. Hahn (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 299-356 Elsevier.
    17. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1993. "Credit channel or credit actions? an interpretation of the postwar transmission mechanism," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 71-149.
    18. Beaudry, Paul & Koop, Gary, 1993. "Do recessions permanently change output?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 149-163, April.
    19. Nelson, Charles R. & Plosser, Charles I., 1982. "Trends and random walks in macroeconmic time series : Some evidence and implications," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 139-162.
    20. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1991. "Identification and the Liquidity Effect of a Monetary Policy Shock," NBER Working Papers 3920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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