IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/fip/fedhwp/wp-2018-16.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Do Household Finances Constrain Unconventional Fiscal Policy?

Author

Listed:
  • Baker, Scott R.

    (Northwestern University)

  • Kueng, Lorenz

    () (Northwestern University)

  • McGranahan, Leslie

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

  • Melzer, Brian T.

    (Dartmouth College)

Abstract

When the zero lower bound on nominal interest rate binds, monetary policy makers may lack traditional tools to stimulate aggregate demand. We investigate whether “unconventional” fiscal policy, in the form of pre-announced consumption tax changes, has the potential to meaningfully shift durables purchases intertemporally and how it is affected by consumer credit. In particular, we test whether car sales react in anticipation of future sales tax changes, leveraging 57 pre-announced changes in state sales tax rates from 1999-2017. We find evidence for substantial tax elasticities, with car sales rising by over 8% in the month before a 1% increase in the sales tax rate. Responses are heterogeneous across households and sensitive to supply of credit. Consumers with high credit risk scores are most able to pull purchases forward. At the same time, other effects such as customer composition and attention lead to an even larger tax elasticity during recessions, despite these credit frictions. We discuss policy implications and the likely magnitudes of tax changes necessary for any substantive long-term responses.

Suggested Citation

  • Baker, Scott R. & Kueng, Lorenz & McGranahan, Leslie & Melzer, Brian T., 2018. "Do Household Finances Constrain Unconventional Fiscal Policy?," Working Paper Series WP-2018-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2018-16
    DOI: 10.21033/wp-2018-16
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.chicagofed.org/~/media/publications/working-papers/2018/wp2018-16-pdf.pdf
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Tullio Jappelli & Luigi Pistaferri, 2010. "The Consumption Response to Income Changes," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 479-506, September.
    2. John Coglianese & Lucas W. Davis & Lutz Kilian & James H. Stock, 2017. "Anticipation, Tax Avoidance, and the Price Elasticity of Gasoline Demand," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(1), pages 1-15, January.
    3. Igal Hendel & Aviv Nevo, 2006. "Measuring the Implications of Sales and Consumer Inventory Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1637-1673, November.
    4. repec:tpr:restat:v:99:y:2017:i:5:p:756-768 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2002. "Do Liquidity Constraints and Interest Rates Matter for Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Credit Card Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 149-185.
    6. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-1177, September.
    7. Alan J. Auerbach & Maurice Obstfeld, 2005. "The Case for Open-Market Purchases in a Liquidity Trap," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 110-137, March.
    8. Alan J. Auerbach & Maurice Obstfeld, 2004. "Monetary and Fiscal Remedies for Deflation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 71-75, May.
    9. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2012. "The Effects of Fiscal Stimulus: Evidence from the 2009 Cash for Clunkers Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1107-1142.
    10. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2009. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1449-1496.
    11. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2011. "House Prices, Home Equity-Based Borrowing, and the US Household Leverage Crisis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2132-2156, August.
    12. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "Fiscal Multipliers in Recession and Expansion," NBER Chapters,in: Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis, pages 63-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. David Cashin & Takashi Unayama, 2016. "Measuring Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption: Evidence from a VAT Increase in Japan," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(2), pages 285-297, May.
    14. Tal Gross & Matthew J. Notowidigdo & Jialan Wang, 2016. "The Marginal Propensity to Consume Over the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 22518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Martin Feldstein, 2002. "The Role for Discretionary Fiscal Policy in a Low Interest Rate Environment," NBER Working Papers 9203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Efraim Benmelech & Ralf R. Meisenzahl & Rodney Ramcharan, 2017. "The Real Effects of Liquidity During the Financial Crisis: Evidence from Automobiles," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(1), pages 317-365.
    17. Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2017. "The Economics of Consumption: Theory and Evidence," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199383153.
    18. repec:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/696277 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Valerie A. Ramey & Sarah Zubairy, 2018. "Government Spending Multipliers in Good Times and in Bad: Evidence from US Historical Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(2), pages 850-901.
    20. repec:oup:qjecon:v:133:y:2018:i:1:p:129-190. is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    counter-cyclical fiscal policy; credit market frictions; consumer durables; household; fiscal policy;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2018-16. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bernie Flores). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/frbchus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.