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Empirical Evidence on the Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated U.S. Tax Policy Shocks

  • Mertens, Karel
  • Ravn, Morten O

We provide empirical evidence on the dynamic effects of tax liability changes in the United States. We distinguish between surprise and anticipated tax changes using a timing-convention. We document that pre-announced but not yet implemented tax cuts give rise to contractions in output, investment and hours worked while real wages increase. In contrast, there are no significant anticipation effects on aggregate consumption. Implemented tax cuts, regardless of their timing, have expansionary and persistent effects on output, consumption, investment, hours worked and real wages. Results are shown to be very robust. We argue that tax shocks are empirically important impulses to the U.S. business cycle and that anticipation effects have been important during several business cycle episodes.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7370.

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Date of creation: Jul 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7370
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  1. Mountford, A.W. & Uhlig, H.F.H.V.S., 2002. "What are the Effects of Fiscal Policy Shocks?," Discussion Paper 2002-31, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles Evans, 1994. "The effects of monetary policy shocks: evidence from the Flow of Funds," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 94-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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  5. Jaimovich, Nir & Rebelo, Sérgio, 2006. "Can News About the Future Drive the Business Cycle?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5877, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Mertens, Karel & Ravn, Morten O, 2009. "Measuring the Impact of Fiscal Policy in the Face of Anticipation: A Structural VAR Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 7423, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Marvin Goodfriend & Robert King, 2005. "The Incredible Volcker Disinflation," NBER Working Papers 11562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Eric M. Leeper & Todd B. Walker & Shu-Chun Susan Yang, 2008. "Fiscal Foresight: Analytics and Econometrics," NBER Working Papers 14028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Mertens, Karel & Ravn, Morten O, 2008. "The Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated U.S. Tax Policy Shocks: Theory and Empirical Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6673, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
  14. Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "Identifying Government Spending Shocks: It's All in the Timing," NBER Working Papers 15464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Souleles, Nicholas S., 2002. "Consumer response to the Reagan tax cuts," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 99-120, July.
  16. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Fisher, Jonas D. M., 2004. "Fiscal shocks and their consequences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 89-117, March.
  17. Morten O. Ravn & Karel Mertens, 2009. "Understanding the Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated Tax Policy shocks," 2009 Meeting Papers 480, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. Karel Mertens & Morten Overgaard Ravn, 2010. "Online Appendix to "Understanding the Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated Tax Policy Shocks"," Technical Appendices 09-221, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  19. Heim, Bradley T., 2007. "The Effect of Tax Rebates on Consumption Expenditures: Evidence from State Tax Rebates," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 60(4), pages 685-710, December.
  20. R. E. Hall, 1971. "The Dynamic Effects of Fiscal Policy in an Economy with Foresight," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 229-244.
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