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Searching for Keynes: An Essay on the Political Economy of Fiscal Policy, with Application to Canada, 1870-2000 - revised version

  • Stanley L. Winer
  • J Stephen Ferris

Keynes' General Theory (1936) is arguably one of the most important books of the twentieth century. His ideas for stabilizing the aggregate economy have profoundly influenced economic theory as well as popular opinion about what governments can and should do with respect to the business cycle. On the other hand, whether Keynesian theory has substantially altered the course of public policy remains an open question. In this paper we identify the elements required for any investigation of the impact of Keynes' ideas on policy choices and then conduct our own 'search for Keynes', applying an intertemporal spatial voting framework to study the fiscal history of the Government of Canada from 1870 to 2000. The long time series allows the construction of a counterfactual – one of several essential elements - showing what governments would have planned to do ‘after Keynes’, if Keynes' ideas had not in fact been present. Our results suggest that textbook Keynesianism is identifiable in the Canadian data.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1016.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1016
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  1. Holtz-Eakin Douglas & Rosen Harvey S. & Tilly Schuyler, 1994. "Intertemporal Analysis of State and Local Government Spending: Theory and Tests," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 159-174, March.
  2. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Why Do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 997-1032, October.
  3. J.Stephen Ferris & Stanley L. Winer, 1999. "Searching for Keynes," Carleton Economic Papers 99-06, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2008.
  4. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1991. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 2436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. Goff, Brian, 1998. " Persistence in Government Spending Fluctuations: New Evidence on the Displacement Effect," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 97(1-2), pages 141-57, October.
  14. Coughlin, Peter & Nitzan, Shmuel, 1981. "Electoral outcomes with probabilistic voting and Nash social welfare maxima," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 113-121, February.
  15. Saikkonen, Pentti, 1991. "Asymptotically Efficient Estimation of Cointegration Regressions," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(01), pages 1-21, March.
  16. Coughlin, Peter J. & Mueller, Dennis C. & Murrell, Peter, 1990. "A model of electroral competition with interest groups," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 307-311, April.
  17. Canova, Fabio, 1998. "Detrending and business cycle facts: A user's guide," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 533-540, May.
  18. Kenny, Lawrence W & Toma, Mark, 1997. " The Role of Tax Bases and Collections Costs in the Determination of Income Tax Rates, Seigniorage and Inflation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 92(1-2), pages 75-90, July.
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