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Government Spending and Private Activity

In: Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis

Author

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  • Valerie A. Ramey

Abstract

This paper asks whether increases in government spending stimulate private activity. The first part of the paper studies private spending. Using a variety of identification methods and samples, I find that in most cases private spending falls significantly in response to an increase in government spending. These results imply that the average GDP multiplier lies below unity. In order to determine whether concurrent increases in tax rates dampen the spending multiplier, I use two different methods to adjust for tax effects. Neither method suggests significant effects of current tax rate changes on the spending multiplier. In the second part of the paper, I explore the effects of government spending on labor markets. I find that increases in government spending lower unemployment. Most specifications and samples imply, however, that virtually all of the effect is through an increase in government employment, not private employment. I thus conclude that on balance government spending does not appear to stimulate private activity.
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Suggested Citation

  • Valerie A. Ramey, 2012. "Government Spending and Private Activity," NBER Chapters,in: Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis, pages 19-55 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12632
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:nbr:nberch:13342 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Brückner, Markus & Pappa, Evi, 2010. "Fiscal expansions affect unemployment, but they may increase it," CEPR Discussion Papers 7766, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 1-27, May.
    4. 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.
    5. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Robert E. Hall, 2009. "By How Much Does GDP Rise If the Government Buys More Output?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(2 (Fall)), pages 183-249.
    7. Gomes, Pedro Maia, 2010. "Fiscal Policy and the Labour Market: The Effects of Public Sector Employment and Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 5321, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Robert J. Barro & Charles J. Redlick, 2011. "Macroeconomic Effects From Government Purchases and Taxes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 51-102.
    9. 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.
    10. JonasD.M. Fisher & Ryan Peters, 2010. "Using Stock Returns to Identify Government Spending Shocks," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(544), pages 414-436, May.
    11. Daniel J. Wilson, 2010. "Fiscal spending multipliers: evidence from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," Working Paper Series 2010-17, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    12. Cragg, John G. & Donald, Stephen G., 1993. "Testing Identifiability and Specification in Instrumental Variable Models," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(02), pages 222-240, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C., 2013. "Rearmament to the Rescue? New Estimates of the Impact of “Keynesian” Policies in 1930s' Britain," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 73(04), pages 1077-1104, December.
    2. Dupor, William D. & Rodrigo , Guerrero, 2017. "The Aggregate and Relative Economic Effects of Medicaid and Medicare Expansions," Working Papers 2017-27, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    3. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C, 2012. "Fiscal Policy in a Depressed Economy: Was There a ‘Free Lunch’ in 1930s’ Britain?," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 106, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    4. Javier J. Perez & Ana Lamo & Enrique Moral-Benito, 2015. "Does Slack Influence Public and Private Labor Market," EcoMod2015 8792, EcoMod.
    5. Bermperoglou, Dimitrios & Pappa, Evi & Vella, Eugenia, 2017. "The government wage bill and private activity," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 21-47.
    6. Bhattarai, Keshab & Trzeciakiewicz, Dawid, 2017. "Macroeconomic impacts of fiscal policy shocks in the UK: A DSGE analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 321-338.
    7. Felix Reichling & Charles Whalen, 2012. "Assessing the Short-Term Effects on Output of Changes in Federal Fiscal Policies: Working Paper 2012-08," Working Papers 43278, Congressional Budget Office.
    8. Carlos Esteban Posada P., 2013. "Los efectos macroeconómicos de la política fiscal y del cambio técnico: predicciones de un modelo de equilibrio general dinámico," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 011459, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

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