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Simple Analytics of the Government Expenditure Multiplier

  • Woodford, Michael

This paper explains the key factors that determine the effectiveness of government purchases as a means of increasing output and employment in New Keynesian models, through a series of simple examples that can be solved analytically. Delays in the adjustment of prices or wages can allow for larger multipliers than exist in the case of fully flexible prices and wages; in a fairly broad class of simple models, the multiplier is 1 in the case that the monetary authority maintains a constant path for real interest rates. The multiplier can be considerably smaller, however, if the monetary authority raises real interest rates in response to increases in inflation or real activity resulting from the fiscal stimulus. A large multiplier is especially plausible when monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates; in such a case, expected utility is maximized by expanding government purchases to at least partially fill the output gap that would otherwise exist owing to the central bank's inability to cut interest rates. However, it is important in such a case that neither the increased government purchases nor the increased taxes required to finance them be expected to persist beyond the period over which monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7704.

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Date of creation: Feb 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7704
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  1. Cúrdia, Vasco & Woodford, Michael, 2009. "Conventional and Unconventional Monetary Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 7514, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Lawrence Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2011. "When Is the Government Spending Multiplier Large?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(1), pages 78 - 121.
  8. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2002. "Sticky Information Versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal To Replace The New Keynesian Phillips Curve," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1295-1328, November.
  9. Christopher J. Nekarda & Valerie A. Ramey, 2010. "Industry evidence on the effects of government spending," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-28, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  14. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Michael Woodford, 2003. "The Zero Bound on Interest Rates and Optimal Monetary Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 139-235.
  15. Robert J. Gordon & Robert Krenn, 2010. "The End of the Great Depression 1939-41: Policy Contributions and Fiscal Multipliers," NBER Working Papers 16380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Christopher J. Erceg & Jesper Linde, 2010. "Is there a fiscal free lunch in a liquidity trap?," International Finance Discussion Papers 1003, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  19. Robert J. Barro & Robert G. King, 1982. "Time-Separable Preference and Intertemporal-Substitution Models of Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 0888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Cogan, John F. & Cwik, Tobias J. & Taylor, John B. & Wieland, Volker, 2009. "New Keynesian versus old Keynesian government spending multipliers," CFS Working Paper Series 2009/17, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
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  22. Rotemberg, Julio J & Woodford, Michael, 1992. "Oligopolistic Pricing and the Effects of Aggregate Demand on Economic Activity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1153-1207, December.
  23. Vasco Curdia & Michael Woodford, 2008. "Credit Frictions and Optimal Monetary Policy," Discussion Papers 0809-02, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  24. Christopher J. Nekarda & Valerie A. Ramey, 2013. "The Cyclical Behavior of the Price-Cost Markup," NBER Working Papers 19099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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