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Simple Analytics of the Government Expenditure Multiplier

  • Michael Woodford

    ()

    (Columbia University - Department of Economics)

This paper explains the key factors that determine the effectiveness of government purchases as a means of increasing output and employment in New Keynesian models, through a series of simple examples that can be solved analytically. Delays in the adjustment of prices or wages can allow for larger multipliers than exist in the case of fully flexible prices and wages; in a fairly broad class of simple models, the multiplier is 1 in the case that the monetary authority maintains a constant path for real interest rates despite the increase in government spending. The multiplier can be considerably smaller, however, if the monetary authority raises real interest rates in response to increases in inflation or real activity resulting from the fiscal stimulus. A large multiplier is especially plausible when monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates; in this case real interest rates fall as a result of the inflationary effect of the stimulus, and a multiplier well in excess of 1 is possible. In such a case, welfare is maximized by expanding government purchases to at least partially fill the output gap that would otherwise exist owing to the central bank's inability to cut interest rates. However, it is important in such a case that neither the increased government purchases nor the increased taxes required to finance them be expected to persist beyond the period over which monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound.

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File URL: http://www.econ.columbia.edu/RePEc/pdf/DP0910-09.pdf
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Paper provided by Columbia University, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 0910-09.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:clu:wpaper:0910-09
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  1. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2001. "Sticky Information Versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal to Replace the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1922, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  3. Christopher Erceg & Jesper Lindé, 2014. "Is There A Fiscal Free Lunch In A Liquidity Trap?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 73-107, 02.
  4. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2011. "What Fiscal Policy is Effective at Zero Interest Rates?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2010, Volume 25, pages 59-112 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Cogan, John F. & Cwik, Tobias J. & Taylor, John B. & Wieland, Volker, 2009. "New Keynesian versus old Keynesian government spending multipliers," CFS Working Paper Series 2009/17, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  7. Vasco Cúrdia & Michael Woodford, 2009. "Conventional and unconventional monetary policy," Staff Reports 404, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  8. S. Rao Aiyagari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1990. "The output, employment, and interest rate effects of government consumption," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 25, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Robert J. Barro & Robert G. King, 1982. "Time-Separable Preference and Intertemporal-Substitution Models of Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 0888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2010. "When is the government spending multiplier large?," CQER Working Paper 2010-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  11. Kevin D. Sheedy, 2007. "Intrinsic inflation persistence," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3739, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  12. Almunia, Miguel & Bénétrix, Agustín & Eichengreen, Barry & O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj & Rua, Gisela, 2009. "From Great Depression to Great Credit Crisis: Similarities, Differences and Lessons," CEPR Discussion Papers 7564, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Vasco Curdia & Michael Woodford, 2008. "Credit Frictions and Optimal Monetary Policy," Discussion Papers 0809-02, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  14. Robert E. Hall, 2009. "By How Much Does GDP Rise if the Government Buys More Output?," NBER Working Papers 15496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Christopher J. Nekarda & Valerie A. Ramey, 2010. "Industry Evidence on the Effects of Government Spending," NBER Working Papers 15754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Introduction to "Monetary Policy Rules"," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 1-14 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. John B. Taylor, 1999. "A Historical Analysis of Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 319-348 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Andrew Levin & Christopher J. Erceg & Dale W. Henderson, 1999. "Optimal Monetary Policy with Staggered Wage and Price Contracts," Computing in Economics and Finance 1999 1151, Society for Computational Economics.
  19. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," NBER Working Papers 6442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Robert J. Gordon & Robert Krenn, 2010. "The End of the Great Depression 1939-41: Policy Contributions and Fiscal Multipliers," NBER Working Papers 16380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing and the Effects of Aggregate Demand on Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 3206, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Baxter, Marianne & King, Robert G, 1993. "Fiscal Policy in General Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 315-34, June.
  23. Christopher J. Nekarda & Valerie A. Ramey, 2013. "The Cyclical Behavior of the Price-Cost Markup," NBER Working Papers 19099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Michael Woodford, 2003. "The Zero Bound on Interest Rates and Optimal Monetary Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 139-235.
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