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Fiscal stimulus in times of high debt: reconsidering multipliers and twin deficits

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  • Nickel, Christiane
  • Tudyka, Andreas

Abstract

We investigate the impact of fiscal stimuli at different levels of the government debt-to-GDP-ratio for a sample of 17 European countries from 1970 to 2010. This is implemented in an interacted panel VAR framework in which all coefficient parameters are allowed to change continuously with the debt-to-GDP ratio. We find that responses to government spending shocks exhibit strong non-linear behaviour. While the overall cumulative effect of a spending shock on real GDP is positive and significant at moderate debt-to-GDP ratios, this effect turns negative as the ratio increases. The total cumulative effect on the trade balance is negative at first but switches sign at higher levels of debt. Consequently, depending on the degree of public indebtedness, our results accommodate long-run fiscal multipliers which are greater and smaller than one or even negative as well as twin deficit and twin divergence behaviour within one sample and time period. From a policy perspective, these results lend additional support to increased prudence at high public debt ratios because the effectiveness of fiscal stimuli to boost economic activity or resolve external imbalances may not be guaranteed. JEL Classification: E62, F32, F41, C32, C11

Suggested Citation

  • Nickel, Christiane & Tudyka, Andreas, 2013. "Fiscal stimulus in times of high debt: reconsidering multipliers and twin deficits," Working Paper Series 1513, European Central Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20131513
    Note: 166869
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    bayesian estimation; debt dynamics; fiscal policy; non-linearities; panel-VAR; trade account;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy; Modern Monetary Theory
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • C11 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Bayesian Analysis: General

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