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What are the effects of fiscal policy shocks? A VAR-based comparative analysis

  • Caldara, Dario
  • Kamps, Christophe

The empirical literature using vector autoregressive models to assess the effects of fiscal policy shocks strongly disagrees on even the qualitative response of key macroeconomic variables to government spending and tax shocks. We provide new evidence for the U.S. over the period 1955-2006. We show that, controlling for differences in specification of the reduced-form model, all identification approaches used in the literature yield qualitatively and quantitatively very similar results as regards government spending shocks. In response to such shocks real GDP, real private consumption and the real wage all significantly increase following a hump-shaped pattern, while private employment does not react. In contrast, we find strongly diverging results as regards the effects of tax shocks, with the estimated effects ranging from non-distortionary to strongly distortionary. The di¤erences in results can to a large extent be traced back to differences in the size of automatic stabilizers estimated or calibrated for alternative identification approaches. These differences also translate into uncertainty about the effects of policy experiments typically considered in theoretical models. JEL Classification: C32, E60, E62, H20, H5

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0877.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20080877
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  1. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1998. "Monetary Policy Shocks: What Have We Learned and to What End?," NBER Working Papers 6400, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Francesco Giavazzi & Tullio Jappelli & Marco Pagano, 2000. "Searching for Non-Linear Effects of Fiscal Policy: Evidence from Industrial and Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 7460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Martin Eichenbaum & Jonas Fisher, 2004. "Fiscal policy in the aftermath of 9/11," Working Paper Series WP-04-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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  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, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1329-1368, November.
  10. Ramey, Valerie A. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1998. "Costly capital reallocation and the effects of government spending," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 145-194, June.
  11. Susan Yang, Shu-Chun, 2005. "Quantifying tax effects under policy foresight," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1557-1568, November.
  12. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
  13. Carlo Favero & Francesco Giavazzi, 2007. "Debt and the Effects of Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 12822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Mountford, Andrew & Uhlig, Harald, 2002. "What are the Effects of Fiscal Policy Shocks?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3338, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Valerie A. Ramey & Neville Francis, 2007. "Measures of Per Capita Hours and their Implications for the Technology-Hours Debate," 2007 Meeting Papers 314, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  21. Wendy Edelberg & Martin Eichenbaum & Jonas D.M. Fisher, 1999. "Understanding the Effects of a Shock to Government Purchases," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 166-206, January.
  22. Florin O. Bilbiie & André Meier & Gernot J. Müller, 2008. "What Accounts for the Changes in U.S. Fiscal Policy Transmission?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(7), pages 1439-1470, October.
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  24. Linnemann, Ludger, 2006. "The Effect of Government Spending on Private Consumption: A Puzzle?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(7), pages 1715-1735, October.
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  27. 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.
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