IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Public Investment, Time to Build, and the Zero Lower Bound

  • Hafedh Bouakez
  • Michel Guillard
  • Jordan Roulleau-Pasdeloup

Public investment represents a non-negligible fraction of total public expenditures. Yet, theoretical studies of the effects of public spending when the economy is stuck in a liquidity trap invariably assume that government expenditures are entirely wasteful. In this paper, we consider a new-Keynesian economy in which a fraction of government spending increases the stock of public capital-which is an external input in the production technology-subject to a time-to-build constraint. In this environment, an increase in public spending has two conflicting effects on current and expected inflation: a positive effect due to higher aggregate demand and a negative effect reflecting future declines in real marginal cost. We solve the model analytically both in normal times and when the zero lower bound (ZLB) on nominal interest rates binds. We show that under relatively short time-to-build delays, the spending multiplier at the ZLB decreases with the fraction of public investment in a stimulus plan. Conversely, when several quarters are required to build new public capital, this relationship is reversed. In the limiting case where a fiscal stimulus is entirely allocated to investment in public infrastructure, the spending multiplier at the ZLB is 4 to 5 times larger than in normal times when the time to build is 12 quarters.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 1402.

in new window

Date of creation: 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:1402
Contact details of provider: Postal:
CP 8888, succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8

Phone: (514) 987-8161
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde & Grey Gordon & Pablo Guerrón-Quintana & Juan F. Rubio-Ramírez, 2012. "Nonlinear adventures at the zero lower bound," Working Papers 12-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  2. Mountford, A.W. & Uhlig, H.F.H.V.S., 2002. "What are the Effects of Fiscal Policy Shocks?," Discussion Paper 2002-31, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Robert J. Barro & Charles J. Redlick, 2009. "Macroeconomic Effects from Government Purchases and Taxes," NBER Working Papers 15369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Raphael Schoenle & Gauti Eggertsson & Saroj Bhattarai, 2012. "Is Increased Price Flexibility Stabilizing? Redux," 2012 Meeting Papers 487, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "Identifying Government Spending Shocks: It's All in the Timing," NBER Working Papers 15464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Roberto Perotti, 2004. "Estimating the effects of fiscal policy in OECD countries," Working Papers 276, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  7. Thorsten Drautzburg & Harald Uhlig, 2015. "Online Appendix to "Fiscal Stimulus and Distortionary Taxation"," Technical Appendices 14-44, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  8. Robert E. Hall & Paul R. Milgrom, 2008. "The Limited Influence of Unemployment on the Wage Bargain," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1653-74, September.
  9. Rüdiger Bachmann & Eric R. Sims, 2011. "Confidence and the Transmission of Government Spending Shocks," NBER Working Papers 17063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Albertini, Julien & Poirier, Arthur & Roulleau-Pasdeloup, Jordan, 2014. "The composition of government spending and the multiplier at the zero lower bound," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 31-35.
  11. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 2002. "An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1329-1368.
  12. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2010. "When is the government spending multiplier large?," FRB Atlanta CQER Working Paper 2010-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  13. Ludger Linnemann & Andreas Schabert, 2006. "Productive Government Expenditure In Monetary Business Cycle Models," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 53(1), pages 28-46, 02.
  14. Perotti, Roberto, 2005. "Estimating the Effects of Fiscal Policy in OECD Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 4842, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Bom, Pedro R.D. & Ligthart, Jenny E., 2014. "Public infrastructure investment, output dynamics, and balanced budget fiscal rules," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 334-354.
  16. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Andrea Ferrero & Andrea Raffo, 2013. "Can structural reforms help Europe?," International Finance Discussion Papers 1092, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Montgomery, Michael R., 1995. "'Time-to-build' completion patterns for nonresidential structures, 1961-1991," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 155-163, May.
  18. Robert E. Hall, 2009. "By How Much Does GDP Rise If the Government Buys More Output?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(2 (Fall)), pages 183-249.
  19. Robert J. Barro, 1988. "Government Spending in a Simple Model of Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 2588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. 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.
  21. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  22. Florin Bilbiie, 2011. "Non-Separable Preferences, Frisch Labor Supply and the Consumption Multiplier of Government Spending: One Solution to a Fiscal Policy Puzzle," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00622872, HAL.
  23. Leeper, Eric M. & Walker, Todd B. & Yang, Shu-Chun S., 2010. "Government investment and fiscal stimulus," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(8), pages 1000-1012, November.
  24. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2010. "Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 16311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Thorsten Drautzburg & Harald Uhlig, 2011. "Fiscal Stimulus and Distortionary Taxation," NBER Working Papers 17111, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Erceg, Christopher & Lindé, Jesper, 2010. "Is There a Fiscal Free Lunch in a Liquidity Trap?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7624, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  27. Guerrieri, Luca & Iacoviello, Matteo, 2014. "OccBin: A Toolkit for Solving Dynamic Models With Occasionally Binding Constraints Easily," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2014-47, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  28. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-200, March.
  29. King, R.G. & Baxter, M., 1990. "Fiscal Policy In General Equilibrium," RCER Working Papers 244, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  30. Sylvain Leduc & Daniel J. Wilson, 2012. "Roads to prosperity or bridges to nowhere? theory and evidence on the impact of public infrastructure investment," Working Paper Series 2012-04, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  31. Hafedh Bouakez & Foued Chihi & Michel Normandin, 2010. "Measuring the Effects of Fiscal Policy," Cahiers de recherche 1016, CIRPEE.
  32. Barsky, Robert B. & Sims, Eric R., 2011. "News shocks and business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 273-289.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:1402. 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: (Manuel Paradis)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.