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Understanding the Size of the Government Spending Multiplier: It's in the Sign

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  • Regis Barnichon
  • Christian Matthes

Abstract

The literature on the government spending multiplier has implicitly assumed that an increase in government spending has the same (mirror-image) effect as a decrease in government spending. We show that relaxing this assumption is important to understand the effects of fiscal policy. Regardless of whether we identify government spending shocks from (i) a narrative approach, or (ii) a timing restriction, we find that the contractionary multiplier?the multiplier associated with a negative shock to government spending?is above 1 and even larger in times of economic slack. In contrast, the expansionary multiplier?the multiplier associated with a positive shock?is substantially below 1 regardless of the state of the cycle. These results help understand seemingly conflicting results in the literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Regis Barnichon & Christian Matthes, 2017. "Understanding the Size of the Government Spending Multiplier: It's in the Sign," Working Paper 17-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:17-15
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    Cited by:

    1. Alberto Alesina & Gualtiero Azzalini & Carlo Favero & Francesco Giavazzi & Armando Miano, 2018. "Is it the “How” or the “When” that Matters in Fiscal Adjustments?," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 66(1), pages 144-188, March.
    2. Diniz, André, 2016. "Effects of fiscal consolidations in Latin America," Textos para discussão 423, FGV EESP - Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Fundação Getulio Vargas (Brazil).
    3. Alloza, Mario & Burriel, Pablo & Pérez, Javier J., 2019. "Fiscal policies in the euro area: Revisiting the size of spillovers," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1-1.
    4. Cardi, Olivier & Restout, Romain & Claeys, Peter, 2020. "Imperfect mobility of labor across sectors and fiscal transmission," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 111(C).
    5. van der Wielen, Wouter, 2020. "The macroeconomic effects of tax changes: Evidence using real-time data for the European Union," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 302-321.
    6. Luca Brugnolini, 2018. "About Local Projection Impulse Response Function Reliability," CEIS Research Paper 440, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 09 Jun 2018.
    7. Biolsi, Christopher, 2017. "Nonlinear effects of fiscal policy over the business cycle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 54-87.
    8. Sanz, Carlos & Gonzalo Muñoz, Jesus & Alloza, Mario, 2019. "Dynamic Effects of Persistent Shocks," UC3M Working papers. Economics 29187, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    9. Sangyup Choi & Junhyeok Shin, 2020. "Household Indebtedness and the Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes," Working papers 2020rwp-178, Yonsei University, Yonsei Economics Research Institute.
    10. Timo Wollmershäuser & Silvia Delrio & Marcell Göttert & Christian Grimme & Jochen Güntner & Carla Krolage & Stefan Lautenbacher & Robert Lehmann & Sebastian Link & Wolfgang Nierhaus & Magnus Reif & Ra, 2018. "ifo Konjunkturprognose Sommer 2018: Gewitterwolken am deutschen Konjunkturhimmel," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 71(12), pages 33-87, June.
    11. Komarek, Timothy M. & Wagner, Gary A., 2020. "The distributional effects of job loss from fiscal consolidation: Evidence from the Budget Control Act of 2011," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 196(C).
    12. Maria Elkhdari & Moez Souissi & Andrew Jewell, 2018. "Empirical Estimation of Fiscal Multipliers in MENA Oil-Exporting Countries with an Application to Algeria," IMF Working Papers 18/124, International Monetary Fund.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    government spending;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

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