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How large are the effects of tax changes?

  • Carlo Favero
  • Francesco Giavazzi

We use the time series of shifts in U.S. Federal tax liabilities constructed by Romer and Romer to estimate tax multipliers. Differently from the single-equation approach adopted by Romer and Romer, our estimation strategy (a Var that includes output, government spending and revenues, inflation and the nominal interest rate) does not rely upon the assumption that tax shocks are orthogonal to each other as well as to lagged values of other macro variables. Our estimated multiplier is much smaller: one, rather than three at a three-year horizon. When we split the sample in two sub-samples (before and after 1980) we find, before 1980, a multiplier whose size is never greater than one, after 1980 a multiplier not significantly different from zero. Following the findings in Bohn (1998), we also experiment with a model that includes debt and the non-linear government budget constraint. We find that, while in general not very important, the non-linearity that arises from the budget constraint makes a difference after 1980, when the response of fiscal variables to the level of the debt becomes stronger.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15303.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15303
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  1. Lippi, Marco & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 1994. "VAR analysis, nonfundamental representations, blaschke matrices," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 307-325, July.
  2. Karel Mertens & Morten O. Ravn, 2008. "The Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated U.S. Tax Policy Shocks: Theory and Empirical Evidence," Economics Working Papers ECO2008/05, European University Institute.
  3. Eric M. Leeper & Todd B. Walker & Shu-Chun Susan Yang, 2008. "Fiscal Foresight: Analytics and Econometrics," NBER Working Papers 14028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Fisher, Jonas D. M., 2004. "Fiscal shocks and their consequences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 89-117, March.
  5. Bagliano, Fabio C. & Favero, Carlo A., 1999. "Information from financial markets and VAR measures of monetary policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 825-837, April.
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