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The Limits to Fiscal Stimulus


  • Buiter, Willem H.


The paper considers the case for an internationally coordinated further fiscal stimulus during the second half of 2009. Although this makes some of the analysis period-specific, most of the issues and principles considered are timeless. For a fiscal stimulus to be both effective there must be idle resources due to a failure of effective demand. For it to be desirable, there must be no alternative policy instruments (including monetary policy) for boosting demand. There must be no complete financial crowding out and no complete direct crowding out, through Ricardian equivalence/debt neutrality, through Minsky equivalence or through a high degree of substitutability between private and public exhaustive expenditure in private preferences or production possibilities. Finally, for international coordination to be desirable, there must be cross-border externalities from national fiscal stimuli. The paper considers each of these conditions in turn.

Suggested Citation

  • Buiter, Willem H., 2009. "The Limits to Fiscal Stimulus," CEPR Discussion Papers 7607, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7607

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Buiter, Willem H., 2009. "Negative nominal interest rates: Three ways to overcome the zero lower bound," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 213-238, December.
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    5. Roberto Perotti, 2008. "In Search of the Transmission Mechanism of Fiscal Policy," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2007, Volume 22, pages 169-226 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Carlo Favero & Francesco Giavazzi, 2009. "How large are the effects of tax changes?," NBER Working Papers 15303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    10. Cogan, John F. & Cwik, Tobias & Taylor, John B. & Wieland, Volker, 2010. "New Keynesian versus old Keynesian government spending multipliers," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 281-295, March.
    11. Roberto Perotti, 2005. "Estimating the effects of fiscal policy in OECD countries," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    12. Antonio Spilimbergo & Steve Symansky & Olivier Blanchard & Carlo Cottarelli, 2009. "Fiscal Policy For The Crisis," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 10(2), pages 26-32, July.
    13. Christopher D. Carroll, 1992. "The Buffer-Stock Theory of Saving: Some Macroeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(2), pages 61-156.
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    Cited by:

    1. Leonardo Gambacorta & Andrés Murcia Pabón, 2017. "The impact of macroprudential policies and their interaction with monetary policy: an empirical analysis using credit registry data," BIS Working Papers 636, Bank for International Settlements.
    2. Arjan M. Lejour & Jasper Lukkezen & Paul Veenendaal, 2011. "Sustainability of Government Debt in the EMU," Chapters,in: The Economic Crisis and European Integration, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Dabrowski, Marek, 2010. "The global financial crisis: Lessons for European integration," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 38-54, March.
    4. Salvatore Dell'Erba & Sergio Sola, 2013. "Fiscal Policy, Interest Rates and Risk Premia in Open Economy," IHEID Working Papers 05-2013, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
    5. Bagliano, Fabio C. & Morana, Claudio, 2012. "The Great Recession: US dynamics and spillovers to the world economy," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 1-13.
    6. Sergio Sola, 2013. "Temporary and Persistent Fiscal Policy Shocks," IHEID Working Papers 06-2013, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
    7. Jha, Shikha & Mallick, Sushanta K. & Park, Donghyun & Quising, Pilipinas F., 2014. "Effectiveness of countercyclical fiscal policy: Evidence from developing Asia," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 82-98.
    8. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2010. "Möglichkeiten der Konjunktursteuerung: Grundsätzliche Überlegungen für die Schweiz," Aussenwirtschaft, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science, Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economics Research, vol. 65(2), pages 111-127, June.
    9. Dell’Erba Salvatore & Sola Sergio, 2016. "Does fiscal policy affect interest rates? Evidence from a factor-augmented panel," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 16(2), pages 395-437, June.
    10. J.E. King, 2011. "Four Theses on the Global Financial Crisis," Chapters,in: The Global Financial Crisis, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item


    Crowding out; Debt sustainability; Fiscal Policy; Minsky neutrality; Ricardian equivalence;

    JEL classification:

    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt

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