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What fiscal policy is effective at zero interest rates?

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  • Gauti B. Eggertsson

Abstract

Tax cuts can deepen a recession if the short-term nominal interest rate is zero, according to a standard New Keynesian business cycle model. An example of a contractionary tax cut is a reduction in taxes on wages. This tax cut deepens a recession because it increases deflationary pressures. Another example is a cut in capital taxes. This tax cut deepens a recession because it encourages people to save instead of spend at a time when more spending is needed. Fiscal policies aimed directly at stimulating aggregate demand work better. These policies include 1) a temporary increase in government spending; and 2) tax cuts aimed directly at stimulating aggregate demand rather than aggregate supply, such as an investment tax credit or a cut in sales taxes. The results are specific to an environment in which the interest rate is close to zero, as observed in large parts of the world today.

Suggested Citation

  • Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2009. "What fiscal policy is effective at zero interest rates?," Staff Reports 402, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:402
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cúrdia, Vasco & Woodford, Michael, 2016. "Credit Frictions and Optimal Monetary Policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 30-65.
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    4. Olivier Jeanne & Lars E. O. Svensson, 2007. "Credible Commitment to Optimal Escape from a Liquidity Trap: The Role of the Balance Sheet of an Independent Central Bank," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 474-490, March.
    5. Poterba, James M., 1996. "Retail Price Reactions to Changes in State and Local Sales Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 49(2), pages 165-176, June.
    6. Karel R. S. M. Mertens & Morten O. Ravn, 2014. "Fiscal Policy in an Expectations-Driven Liquidity Trap," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(4), pages 1637-1667.
    7. Poterba, James M., 1996. "Retail Price Reactions to Changes in State and Local Sales Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(2), pages 165-76, June.
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    Keywords

    Fiscal policy ; Interest rates ; Taxation ; Government spending policy;

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