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How Does the U.S. Government Finance Fiscal Shocks?

  • Antje Berndt
  • Hanno Lustig
  • Sevin Yeltekin

We develop a method for identifying and quantifying the fiscal channels that help finance government spending shocks. We define fiscal shocks as surprises in defense spending and show that they are more precisely identified when defense stock data are used in addition to aggregate macroeconomic data. Our results show that in the postwar period, over 9% of the U.S. government's unanticipated spending needs were financed by a reduction in the market value of debt and more than 73% by an increase in primary surpluses. Additionally, we find that long-term debt is more effective at absorbing fiscal risk than short-term debt.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16458.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Antje Berndt & Hanno Lustig & Sevin Yeltekin, 2012. "How Does the US Government Finance Fiscal Shocks?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 69-104, January.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16458
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  1. Isabel Correia & Juan Pablo Nicolini & Pedro Teles, 2008. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy: Equivalence Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(1), pages 141-170, 02.
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  8. Hess, Gregory D, 1993. "A Test of the Theory of Optimal Taxation for the United States, 1869-1989," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(4), pages 712-16, November.
  9. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior Of U.S. Public Debt And Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963, August.
  10. Hess Chung & Eric Leeper, 2007. "What Has Financed Government Debt?," Caepr Working Papers 2007-015, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
  11. Jegadeesh, Narasimhan & Titman, Sheridan, 1993. " Returns to Buying Winners and Selling Losers: Implications for Stock Market Efficiency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(1), pages 65-91, March.
  12. John Y. Campbell, 1992. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Without Consumption Data," NBER Working Papers 3989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 1-27, May.
  14. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1993. "Common risk factors in the returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-56, February.
  15. George-Marios Angeletos, 2002. "Fiscal Policy With Noncontingent Debt And The Optimal Maturity Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1105-1131, August.
  16. Christopher Sleet, 2004. "Optimal Taxation with Private Government Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(4), pages 1217-1239, October.
  17. Bohn, Henning, 1988. "Why do we have nominal government debt?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 127-140, January.
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