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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. Mertens, Karel & Ravn, Morten O, 2009. "Understanding the Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated Tax Policy Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 7505, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "Identifying Government Spending Shocks: It's All in the Timing," NBER Working Papers 15464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 1999. "An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output," NBER Working Papers 7269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Christopher L. House & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2004. "Phased-In Tax Cuts and Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 10415, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Morten O. Ravn & Karel Mertens, 2008. "The Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated U.S. Tax Policy Shocks: Theory and Empirical Evidence," 2008 Meeting Papers 575, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles, 1996. "The Effects of Monetary Policy Shocks: Evidence from the Flow of Funds," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 16-34, February.
  8. Nir Jaimovich & Sergio Rebelo, 2006. "Can News About the Future Drive the Business Cycle?," 2006 Meeting Papers 31, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Karel Mertens & MortenO. Ravn, 2010. "Measuring the Impact of Fiscal Policy in the Face of Anticipation: A Structural VAR Approach," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(544), pages 393-413, 05.
  10. 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.
  11. Danthine, Jean-Pierre & Donaldson, John B. & Johnsen, Thore, 1998. "Productivity growth, consumer confidence and the business cycle," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(6), pages 1113-1140, June.
  12. Andrew Mountford & Harald Uhlig, 2005. "What are the Effects of Fiscal Policy Shocks?," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2005-039, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  13. Goodfriend, Marvin & King, Robert G., 2005. "The incredible Volcker disinflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(5), pages 981-1015, July.
  14. 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.
  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. Susan Yang, Shu-Chun, 2005. "Quantifying tax effects under policy foresight," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1557-1568, November.
  17. Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "The Reaction of Household Consumption to Predictable Changes in Social Security Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 959-973, September.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
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