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Appropriate Fiscal Policy over the Business Cycle: Proper Stimulus Policies Can Work

  • Philip E. Graves

Fiscal policy has become quite controversial in the post-Keynesian era, the debate over the Obama stimulus package being a contentious recent example. Some pundits go so far as to take the position that macroeconomic theory has failed to meaningfully progress in terms of providing useful recommendations for policy-makers, particularly in times of recession. Others take the laissez-faire view that policy reactions to the business cycle do not help in a rational expectations world and indeed do harm by increasing uncertainty. Still others, while not necessarily viewing themselves as in any sense “Keynesian,” have a nagging feeling that sometimes doing nothing must be worse than doing something…but what to do? Sensible guidance is provided here on how governments should spend taxpayer dollars and on how that spending should change under varying economic conditions. The nature of public goods, namely whether they are complements, substitutes, or neutral to private goods, is seen to be critical to such decisions.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3160.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3160
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  1. Graves, Philip E., 2009. "A note on the valuation of collective goods: overlooked input market free riding for non-individually incrementable goods," MPRA Paper 19928, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Horowitz, John K. & McConnell, Kenneth E., 2002. "A Review of WTA/WTP Studies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 426-447, November.
  3. Flores, Nicholas E. & Graves, Philip E., 2008. "Optimal public goods provision: implications of endogenizing the labor/leisure choice," MPRA Paper 19923, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Philip E. Graves, 2010. "Benefit-Cost Analysis of Environmental Projects: A Plethora of Systematic Biases," CESifo Working Paper Series 3144, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Hanemann, W Michael, 1991. "Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept: How Much Can They Differ?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 635-47, June.
  6. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  7. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
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