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The Optimal Use of Government Purchases for Stabilization

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  • Michaillat, Pascal
  • Saez, Emmanuel

Abstract

This paper explores how government purchases can improve stabilization. When unemployment is inefficiently high, optimal government purchases deviate from the Samuelson level to reduce the unemployment gap. Hence, stimulus spending is desirable in slumps whenever the unemployment multiplier is positive. Then, the optimal level of stimulus spending is increasing in the multiplier for small multipliers, largest for a moderate multiplier, and decreasing beyond that. Furthermore, the optimal level of stimulus spending is increasing in the elasticity of substitution between public and private consumption. In particular, optimal stimulus spending is zero when extra public services are useless, and it completely fills the unemployment gap when extra public services are as valuable as extra private services. The results hold whether taxes are nondistortionary or distortionary.

Suggested Citation

  • Michaillat, Pascal & Saez, Emmanuel, 2016. "The Optimal Use of Government Purchases for Stabilization," CEPR Discussion Papers 11577, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11577
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:nbr:nberch:13342 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    3. Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2015. "Aggregate Demand, Idle Time, and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 507-569.
    4. Harold L. Cole & George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, 1995. "Incorporating concern for relative wealth into economic models," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 12-21.
    5. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 1-27, May.
    6. Robert E. Hall, 2009. "By How Much Does GDP Rise If the Government Buys More Output?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(2 (Fall)), pages 183-249.
    7. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2010. "The New Dynamic Public Finance," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9222.
    8. Robert J. Barro & Charles J. Redlick, 2011. "Macroeconomic Effects From Government Purchases and Taxes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 51-102.
    9. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 2002. "An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1329-1368.
    10. Francis, Johanna L., 2009. "Wealth and the capitalist spirit," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 394-408, September.
    11. John B. Taylor, 2011. "An Empirical Analysis of the Revival of Fiscal Activism in the 2000s," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 686-702, September.
    12. Yoshiyasu Ono & Katsunori Yamada, 2012. "Difference or Ratio: Implication of Status Preference on Stagnation," ISER Discussion Paper 0856rr, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University, revised Jan 2014.
    13. Camille Landais & Pascal Michaillat & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "A Macroeconomic Theory of Optimal Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 16526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Owen Zidar & Juan Carlos Serrato & Eduardo Morales & Pablo Fajgelbaum, 2015. "State Taxes and Spatial Misallocation," 2015 Meeting Papers 877, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Sanjay K. Chugh & Wolfgang Lechthalerz & Christian Merkl, 2015. "Optimal Fiscal Policy with Labor Selection," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 884, Boston College Department of Economics.
    3. Xu, Kun & Xu, Wenli, 2015. "中国政府消费支出对经济波动的传导机理分析
      [Study on Influential Mechanism Between Government Expenditure of Consumption and Economic Fluctuation]
      ," MPRA Paper 70994, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Dec 2015.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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