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The Optimal Composition of Public Spending in a Deep Recession

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  • Hafedh Bouakez
  • Michel Guillard
  • Jordan Roulleau-Pasdeloup

Abstract

We study optimal monetary and fiscal policy under commitment in an economy where monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound on the nominal interest rate, and where the government can allocate spending to public consumption and public investment. We show that the optimal response to an adverse shock that precipitates the economy into a liquidity trap entails a small and short-lived increase in public consumption but a large and persistent increase in public investment, which lasts well after the natural rate of interest has ceased to be negative. During this period, the optimal composition of public spending is therefore heavily skewed towards public investment. Contrary to the literature that abstracts from public investment, we find that the optimal increase in total public spending in a deep recession is sizable. However, we show that this fiscal expansion has little to do with a stabilization motive and is instead warranted by the intertemporal allocation of resources that efficiency dictates even in the absence of an output gap.

Suggested Citation

  • Hafedh Bouakez & Michel Guillard & Jordan Roulleau-Pasdeloup, 2016. "The Optimal Composition of Public Spending in a Deep Recession," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'économie 16.09, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, Département d’économie.
  • Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:16.09
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    Cited by:

    1. Bouakez, Hafedh & Oikonomou, Rigas & Priftis, Romanos, 2018. "Optimal debt management in a liquidity trap," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 5-21.
    2. Hafedh Bouakez & Michel Guillard & Jordan Roulleau-Pasdeloup, 2017. "Public Investment, Time to Build, and the Zero Lower Bound," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 23, pages 60-79, January.
    3. Jordan Roulleau‐Pasdeloup, 2018. "The Government Spending Multiplier in a (Mis)Managed Liquidity Trap," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 50(2-3), pages 293-315, March.
    4. Nakata, Taisuke & Schmidt, Sebastian, 2019. "Expectations-driven liquidity traps: implications for monetary and fiscal policy," Working Paper Series 2304, European Central Bank.
    5. Valerie A. Ramey, 2020. "The Macroeconomic Consequences of Infrastructure Investment," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Analysis and Infrastructure Investment, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public spending; Public investment; Time to build; Ramsey policies; Zero lower bound;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures

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