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Public Consumption Over the Business Cycle

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  • Ruediger Bachmann
  • Jinhui Bai

Abstract

What fraction of the business cycle volatility of government purchases is accounted for as endogenous reactions to overall macroeconomic conditions? We answer this question in the framework of a neoclassical representative household model where the provision of a public consumption good is decided upon endogenously and in a time-consistent fashion. A simple frictionless version of such a model with aggregate productivity as the sole driving force can explain almost all the volatility of U.S. non-defense government consumption expenditures. However, such a model fails to match other important features of the business cycle dynamics of public consumption, which comes out as not persistent enough and too synchronized with the cycle. We add implementation lags and implementation costs in the budgeting process to the model, plus taste shocks for public consumption relative to private consumption, and achieve a substantially better match to the data. All these ingredients are essential to improve the fit. Depending on the precise specification of the flow utility function over private consumption, public consumption and leisure, 25-40 percent of the variance of public consumption is driven by aggregate productivity shocks.

Suggested Citation

  • Ruediger Bachmann & Jinhui Bai, 2011. "Public Consumption Over the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 17230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17230
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    1. Public consumption and the business cycle
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-08-18 19:49:00

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    3. Ruediger Bachmann & Jinhui Bai, 2013. "Politico-Economic Inequality and the Comovement of Government Purchases," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(4), pages 565-580, October.
    4. Ruediger Bachmann & Jinhui Bai & Minjoon Lee & Fudong Zhang, 2020. "The Welfare and Distributional Effects of Fiscal Volatility: a Quantitative Evaluation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 38, pages 127-153, October.
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    6. Facundo Piguillem & Anderson Schneider, 2013. "Heterogeneous Labor Skills, The Median Voter and Labor Taxes," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(2), pages 332-349, April.
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    8. Juan Equiza Goni, 2014. "Sovereign Debt in the U.S. and Growth Expectations," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2014-25, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    9. Axelle Ferriere & Anastasios G. Karantounias, 2019. "Fiscal Austerity in Ambiguous Times," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 89-131, January.
    10. Ruediger Bachmann & Jinhui Bai & Minjoon Lee & Fudong Zhang, 2020. "The Welfare and Distributional Effects of Fiscal Volatility: a Quantitative Evaluation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 38, pages 127-153, October.
    11. Si Guo & Yun Pei & Zoe Xie, 2018. "Decentralization and Overborrowing in a Fiscal Federation," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2018-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E30 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General

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