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Fiscal Policy in a Depressed Economy: Was There a ‘Free Lunch’ in 1930s’ Britain?

Author

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  • Crafts, Nicholas

    (University of Warwick)

  • Mills, Terence C

    (University of Loughborough)

Abstract

We report estimates of the fiscal multiplier for interwar Britain based on quarterly data and timeseries econometrics. We find that the government-expenditure multiplier was in the range 0.3 to 0.9 even during the period that interest rates were at the lower bound. The scope for a ‘Keynesian solution’ to recession was much less than is generally supposed. In the later 1930s but not before Britain’s exit from the gold standard, there was a ‘fiscal free lunch’ in that deficit-financed government spending would have improved public finances enough to pay for the interest on the extra debt

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:106
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Wataru Miyamoto & Thuy Lan Nguyen & Dmitriy Sergeyev, 2018. "Government Spending Multipliers under the Zero Lower Bound: Evidence from Japan," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 247-277, July.
    2. Oulton, Nicholas, 2013. "Medium and long run prospects for UK growth in the aftermathof the financial crisis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58239, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Timothy S. Hills & Taisuke Nakata, 2018. "Fiscal Multipliers at the Zero Lower Bound: The Role of Policy Inertia," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 50(1), pages 155-172, February.
    4. repec:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/696277 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Valerie A. Ramey & Sarah Zubairy, 2018. "Government Spending Multipliers in Good Times and in Bad: Evidence from US Historical Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(2), pages 850-901.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    defence news; Keynesian solution; multiplier; public works; self-defeating austerity;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-

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