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What Fiscal Policy is Effective at Zero Interest Rates?

In: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2010, Volume 25

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  • Gauti B. Eggertsson

Abstract

Tax cuts can deepen a recession if the short-term nominal interest rate is zero, according to a standard New Keynesian business cycle model. An example of a contractionary tax cut is a reduction in taxes on wages. This tax cut deepens a recession because it increases deflationary pressures. Another example is a cut in capital taxes. This tax cut deepens a recession because it encourages people to save instead of spend at a time when more spending is needed. Fiscal policies aimed directly at stimulating aggregate demand work better. These policies include 1) a temporary increase in government spending; and 2) tax cuts aimed directly at stimulating aggregate demand rather than aggregate supply, such as an investment tax credit or a cut in sales taxes. The results are specific to an environment in which the interest rate is close to zero, as observed in large parts of the world today.
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Suggested Citation

  • Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2011. "What Fiscal Policy is Effective at Zero Interest Rates?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2010, Volume 25, pages 59-112 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12027
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    1. Cúrdia, Vasco & Woodford, Michael, 2016. "Credit Frictions and Optimal Monetary Policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 30-65.
    2. Olivier Jeanne & Lars E. O. Svensson, 2007. "Credible Commitment to Optimal Escape from a Liquidity Trap: The Role of the Balance Sheet of an Independent Central Bank," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 474-490, March.
    3. Jess Benhabib & Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2002. "Avoiding Liquidity Traps," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 535-563, June.
    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. Poterba, James M., 1996. "Retail Price Reactions to Changes in State and Local Sales Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 49(2), pages 165-176, June.
    6. 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.
    7. Poterba, James M., 1996. "Retail Price Reactions to Changes in State and Local Sales Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(2), pages 165-76, June.
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