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

Author

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  • Barnichon, Regis

    (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)

  • Matthes, Christian

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond)

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

  • Barnichon, Regis & Matthes, Christian, 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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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. Luca Brugnolini, 2018. "About Local Projection Impulse Response Function Reliability," CEIS Research Paper 440, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 09 Jun 2018.
    3. repec:eee:dyncon:v:78:y:2017:i:c:p:54-87 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Diniz, André, 2016. "Effects of fiscal consolidations in Latin America," Textos para discussão 423, FGV/EESP - Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).

    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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