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Monetary vs. Fiscal Policy Effects: A Review of the Debate

  • Bennett T. McCallum

This paper reviews empirical findings, econometric issues,and theoretical results bearing upon the "monetary vs. fiscal policy" debate that began with the 1963 Friedrnan-Meiselman study.The main substantive conclusions are not very dramatic.The clearest is that an open-market increase in the money stock has a stimulative effect on aggregate demand, a conclusion that in turn implies that a money-financed increase in government expenditures (or reduction in taxes) is more stimulative than it would be if bond financed.This conclusion is based on empirical results obtained from St. Louis-type estimates and large scale economebic models and is supported by theoretical analysis involving both Ricardian and non-Ricardian assumptions. In the case of pure fiscal policy actions -- i.e.,bond-financed tax cutsor bond-financed expenditure increases --theory suggests that the latter should be at least as stimulative as the former and probably to a positive extent; evidence is mixed but not obviously inconsistent with this prediction.With respect to the textbook issue concerning the relative effects of pure monetary and fiscal actions, the evidence seems to support the notion that a sequence of $k open-market purchases, one each period, will be much more stimulative than a single but unreversed $k/period bond-financed increase in expenditures. The importance of this last issue is debatable.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1556.

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Date of creation: Feb 1985
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as McCallum, Bennett T. "Monetary vs. Fiscal Policy Effects: A Review of the Debate." The Monetary vs. Fiscal Policy Debate, edited by R. W. Hafer, pp . 9-29. Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Allanheld, Publishers, 1986.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1556
Note: EFG
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  1. Friedman, Benjamin M, 1977. "Even the St. Louis Model Now Believes in Fiscal Policy: A Note," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 9(2), pages 365-67, May.
  2. McCallum, Bennett T, 1981. "Monetarist Principles and the Money Stock Growth Rule," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 134-38, May.
  3. Lipsey, R G & Parkin, J M, 1970. "Incomes Policy: A Re-appraisal," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 37(146), pages 115-38, May.
  4. Blinder, Alan S. & Solow, Robert M., 1973. "Does fiscal policy matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 319-337.
  5. Brunner, Karl & Meltzer, Allan H, 1972. "Money, Debt, and Economic Activity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(5), pages 951-77, Sept.-Oct.
  6. Franco Modigliani, 1977. "The monetarist controversy; or, should we forsake stabilization policies?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Spr suppl, pages 27-46.
  7. Dallas S. Batten & Daniel L. Thornton, 1983. "Polynomial distributed lags and the estimation of the St. Louis equation," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Apr, pages 13-25.
  8. Meltzer, Allan H, 1969. "Money, Intermediation, and Growth," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 27-56, March.
  9. Barro, Robert J & Gordon, David B, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 589-610, August.
  10. Douglas D. Purvis, 1978. "Monetarism: A Review," Working Papers 320, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  11. Sargent, Thomas J, 1976. "A Classical Macroeconometric Model for the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(2), pages 207-37, April.
  12. Mayer, Thomas, 1984. "The government budget constraint and standard macrotheory," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 371-379, May.
  13. Christopher A. Sims, 1982. "Policy Analysis with Econometric Models," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 13(1), pages 107-164.
  14. Leonall C. Andersen & Jerry L. Jordon, 1968. "Monetary and fiscal actions: a test of their relative importance in economic stabilization," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 11-23.
  15. Blinder, Alan S. & Solow, Robert M., 1976. "Does fiscal policy still matter? : A reply," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 501-510, November.
  16. Robert B. Litterman, 1984. "Specifying vector autoregressions for macroeconomic forecasting," Staff Report 92, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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