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

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  • Philip E. Graves

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip E. Graves, 2010. "Appropriate Fiscal Policy over the Business Cycle: Proper Stimulus Policies Can Work," CESifo Working Paper Series 3160, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3160
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp3160.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Nicholas E. Flores & Philip E. Graves, 2008. "Optimal Public Goods Provision: Implications of Endogenizing the Labor/Leisure Choice," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 84(4), pages 701-707.
    2. 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 1325-1348, December.
    3. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-1061.
    4. 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.
    5. Graves Philip E, 2009. "A Note on the Valuation of Collective Goods: Overlooked Input Market Free Riding for Non-Individually Incrementable Goods," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-20, February.
    6. 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 635-647, June.
    7. Philip E. Graves, 2010. "Benefit-Cost Analysis of Environmental Projects: A Plethora of Systematic Biases," CESifo Working Paper Series 3144, CESifo Group Munich.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal policy; business cycles; public goods; recessions; boomtimes;

    JEL classification:

    • E12 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian
    • E13 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Neoclassical
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E66 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General Outlook and Conditions
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General

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