How does the U.S. government finance fiscal shocks?
We develop a method for identifying and quantifying the fiscal channels that help finance government spending shocks. We define fiscal shocks as surprises in defense spending and show that they are more precisely identified when defense stock data are used in addition to aggregate macroeconomic data. Our results show that in the postwar period, about 9% of the U.S. government’s unantic- ipated spending needs were financed by a reduction in the market value of debt and more than 70% by an increase in primary sur- pluses. Additionally, we find that long-term debt is more effective at absorbing fiscal risk than short-term debt.
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