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Fiscal policy in the United States: automatic stabilizers, discretionary fiscal policy actions, and the economy

Author

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  • Glenn Follette
  • Byron F. Lutz

Abstract

We examine the effects of the economy on the government budget as well as the effects of the budget on the economy. First, we provide measures of the effects of automatic stabilizers on budget outcomes at the federal and state and local levels. For the federal government, the deficit increases about 0.35 percent of GDP for each 1 percentage point deviation of actual GDP relative to potential GDP. For state and local governments, the deficit increases by about 0.1 percent of GDP. We then examine the response of the economy to the automatic stabilizers using the FRB/US model by comparing the response to aggregate demand shocks under two scenarios: with the automatic stabilizers in place and without the automatic stabilizers. Second, we provide measures of discretionary fiscal policy actions at the federal and state and local levels. We find that federal policy actions are somewhat counter-cyclical while state and local policy actions have been somewhat pro-cyclical. Finally, we evaluate the impact of the budget, from both automatic stabilizers and discretionary actions, on economic activity in 2008 and 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • Glenn Follette & Byron F. Lutz, 2010. "Fiscal policy in the United States: automatic stabilizers, discretionary fiscal policy actions, and the economy," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-43, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2010-43
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Darrel Cohen & Glenn Follette, 2000. "The automatic fiscal stabilizers: quietly doing their thing," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Apr, pages 35-67.
    2. Nicholas S. Souleles & Jonathan A. Parker & David S. Johnson, 2006. "Household Expenditure and the Income Tax Rebates of 2001," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1589-1610, December.
    3. Follette, Glenn & Kusko, Andrea & Lutz, Byron, 2008. "State and Local Finances and the Macroeconomy: The High–Employment Budget and Fiscal Impetus," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 61(3), pages 531-545, September.
    4. Claudia R. Sahm & Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2010. "Household Response to the 2008 Tax Rebate: Survey Evidence and Aggregate Implications," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 24, pages 69-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Joshua Aizenman & Gurnain Kaur Pasricha, 2010. "On the ease of overstating the fiscal stimulus in the US, 2008-9," NBER Working Papers 15784, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Rebecca M. Blank, 2001. "What Causes Public Assistance Caseloads to Grow?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 85-118.
    7. Darrel Cohen & Jason G. Cummins, 2006. "A retrospective evaluation of the effects of temporary partial expensing," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2006-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Brian Knight, 2002. "Endogenous Federal Grants and Crowd-out of State Government Spending: Theory and Evidence from the Federal Highway Aid Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 71-92, March.
    9. Julia Lynn Coronado & Joseph P. Lupton & Louise Sheiner, 2005. "The household spending response to the 2003 tax cut: evidence from survey data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-32, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    10. Christopher L. House & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2008. "Temporary Investment Tax Incentives: Theory with Evidence from Bonus Depreciation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 737-768, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gerald Carlino & Robert P. Inman, 2016. "Fiscal Stimulus in Economic Unions: What Role for States?," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 1-50.
    2. Gerald Carlino & Robert P. Inman, 2013. "Macro Fiscal Policy in Economic Unions: States as Agents," NBER Working Papers 19559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jan Veld & Martin Larch & Marieke Vandeweyer, 2013. "Automatic Fiscal Stabilisers: What They Are and What They Do," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 147-163, February.
    4. Mertens, Karel & Ravn, Morten O., 2014. "A reconciliation of SVAR and narrative estimates of tax multipliers," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(S), pages 1-19.
    5. Stevan Luković, 2014. "The Role Of The Automatic Stabilizers In Modern Economy," Ekonomika, Journal for Economic Theory and Practice and Social Issues 2014-01, „Ekonomika“ Society of Economists, Niš (Serbia).
    6. Michael D. Evans & Trevor Chamberlain, 2014. "Measuring the Effects of Monetary and Fiscal Policy Changes on the U.S. Economy (1982-2012)," Review of Economics & Finance, Better Advances Press, Canada, vol. 4, pages 1-14, May.
    7. C. Randall HENNING & Martin KESSLER, 2012. "Fiscal Federalism: US History for Architects of Europe’s Fiscal Union," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 6, pages 1-31.
    8. Gondor Mihaela, 2012. "Theoretical Considerations Regarding The Automatic Fiscal Stabilizers Operating Mechanism," Annals of Faculty of Economics, University of Oradea, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1(1), pages 713-719, July.
    9. Peter Tulip, 2014. "Fiscal Policy and the Inflation Target," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 10(2), pages 63-96, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fiscal policy ; Finance; Public;

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt

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