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Clearing Up the Fiscal Multiplier Morass

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  • Eric M. Leeper
  • Nora Traum
  • Todd B. Walker

Abstract

Bayesian prior predictive analysis of five nested DSGE models suggests that model specifications and prior distributions tightly circumscribe the range of possible government spending multipliers. Multipliers are decomposed into wealth and substitution effects, yielding uniform comparisons across models. By constraining the multiplier to tight ranges, model and prior selections bias results, revealing less about fiscal effects in data than about the lenses through which researchers choose to interpret data. When monetary policy actively targets inflation, output multipliers can exceed one, but investment multipliers are likely to be negative. Passive monetary policy produces consistently strong multipliers for output, consumption, and investment.

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  • Eric M. Leeper & Nora Traum & Todd B. Walker, 2011. "Clearing Up the Fiscal Multiplier Morass," NBER Working Papers 17444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17444
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    JEL classification:

    • C11 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Bayesian Analysis: General
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy

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