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Is there a fiscal free lunch in a liquidity trap?

  • Christopher J. Erceg
  • Jesper Linde

This paper uses a DSGE model to examine the effects of an expansion in government spending in a liquidity trap. If the liquidity trap is very prolonged, the spending multiplier can be much larger than in normal circumstances, and the budgetary costs minimal. But given this "fiscal free lunch," it is unclear why policymakers would want to limit the size of fiscal expansion. Our paper addresses this question in a model environment in which the duration of the liquidity trap is determined endogenously, and depends on the size of the fiscal stimulus. We show that even if the multiplier is high for small increases in government spending, it may decrease substantially at higher spending levels; thus, it is crucial to distinguish between the marginal and average responses of output and government debt.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 1003.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1003
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  1. Martin Bodenstein & Christopher J. Erceg & Luca Guerrieri, 2009. "The effects of foreign shocks when interest rates are at zero," International Finance Discussion Papers 983, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  3. Eric Leeper & Todd Walker & Susan Yang SHu-Chun, 2009. "Fiscal Foresight And Information Flows," Caepr Working Papers 2009-001, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
  4. David Altig & Lawrence Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Jesper Linde, 2005. "Firm-Specific Capital, Nominal Rigidities and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 11034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2006. "Monetary conservatism and fiscal policy," Working Paper Series 0663, European Central Bank.
  6. Erceg, Christopher & Guerriei, Luca & Gust, Christopher, 2006. "SIGMA: A New Open Economy Model for Policy Analysis," MPRA Paper 813, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Christiano, Lawrence & Motto, Roberto & Rostagno, Massimo, 2008. "Shocks, structures or monetary policies? The Euro Area and US after 2001," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 2476-2506, August.
  8. Davig, Troy & Leeper, Eric M., 2011. "Monetary-fiscal policy interactions and fiscal stimulus," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 211-227, February.
  9. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2005. "Great expectations and the end of the depression," Staff Reports 234, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  10. Bernanke, Ben S. & Gertler, Mark & Gilchrist, Simon, 1999. "The financial accelerator in a quantitative business cycle framework," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 21, pages 1341-1393 Elsevier.
  11. Cogan, John F. & Cwik, Tobias & Taylor, John B. & Wieland, Volker, 2009. "New Keynesian versus old Keynesian government spending multipliers," CEPR Discussion Papers 7236, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Jonas D. M. Fisher & Ryan Peters, 2009. "Using stock returns to identify government spending shocks," Working Paper Series WP-09-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  13. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Kahn, Charles M, 1980. "The Solution of Linear Difference Models under Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1305-11, July.
  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. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2009. "What fiscal policy is effective at zero interest rates?," Staff Reports 402, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  16. Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "Identifying Government Spending Shocks: It's All in the Timing," NBER Working Papers 15464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Andrew Mountford & Harald Uhlig, 2009. "What are the effects of fiscal policy shocks?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(6), pages 960-992.
  18. Jung, Taehun & Teranishi, Yuki & Watanabe, Tsutomu, 2005. "Optimal Monetary Policy at the Zero-Interest-Rate Bound," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(5), pages 813-35, October.
  19. Malin Adolfson & Stefan Laséen & Jesper Lindé & Mattias Villani, 2005. "The Role of Sticky Prices in an Open Economy DSGE Model: A Bayesian Investigation," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 444-457, 04/05.
  20. David Domeij & Martin Floden, 2006. "The Labor-Supply Elasticity and Borrowing Constraints: Why Estimates are Biased," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 242-262, April.
  21. Eric M. Leeper & Todd B. Walker & Shu-Chun Susan Yang, 2011. "Foresight and Information Flows," NBER Working Papers 16951, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. David Altig & Lawrence Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Jesper Linde, 2005. "Online Appendix to "Firm-Specific Capital, Nominal Rigidities and the Business Cycle"," Technical Appendices 09-191, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  23. Yun, Tack, 1996. "Nominal price rigidity, money supply endogeneity, and business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 345-370, April.
  24. Mertens, Karel & Ravn, Morten O, 2010. "Fiscal Policy in an Expectations Driven Liquidity Trap," CEPR Discussion Papers 7931, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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