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The Case Against the Case Against Discretionary Fiscal Policy

  • Alan S. Blinder

    (Princeton University)

Times change. When I was introduced to macroeconomics as a Princeton University freshman in 1963, fiscal policy and by that I mean discretionary fiscal stabilization policy was all the rage. The policy idea that would eventually become the Kennedy- Johnson tax cuts was the new, new thing. In those days, discussions of monetary policy often fell into the oh, by the way category, with a number of serious economists and others apparently believing that monetary policy was not a particularly useful tool for stabilization policy.1 The appropriate role for central bank policy was often said to be “accommodating” fiscal policy, which was cast in the lead role.2 Thus many people, probably including President Kennedy, thought that Walter Heller, who was then chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, was more instrumental to stabilization policy than William McChesney Martin, who was then chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Indeed, it was said that Kennedy only remembered that Martin was in charge of monetary policy by the fact that both words began with the letter M.

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Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies. in its series Working Papers with number 102.

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Date of creation: Jun 2004
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Handle: RePEc:pri:cepsud:100blinder
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  1. Bernanke, Ben S, 2000. "Comment on America's Historical Experience with Low Inflation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(4), pages 994-97, November.
  2. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-87, December.
  3. Blinder, Alan S, 1981. "Temporary Income Taxes and Consumer Spending," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(1), pages 26-53, February.
  4. Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2003. "Consumer Response to Tax Rebates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 381-396, March.
  5. Chang-Tai Hsieh, 2003. "Do Consumers React to Anticipated Income Changes? Evidence from the Alaska Permanent Fund," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 397-405, March.
  6. Stephen Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 24-85, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  7. Alan S. Blinder & Angus Deaton, 1985. "The Time Series Consumption Function Revisited," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 16(2), pages 465-521.
  8. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Souleles, Nicholas S., 2002. "Consumer response to the Reagan tax cuts," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 99-120, July.
  11. Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "The Reaction of Household Consumption to Predictable Changes in Social Security Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 959-973, September.
  12. Robert J. Barro, 1980. "Output Effects of Government Purchases," NBER Working Papers 0432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, March.
  14. Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
  15. Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "Front matter, The American Business Cycle. Continuity and Change," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages -15 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Shapiro, Matthew D & Slemrod, Joel, 1995. "Consumer Response to the Timing of Income: Evidence from a Change in Tax Withholding," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 274-83, March.
  17. Edmund S. Phelps, 1968. "Money-Wage Dynamics and Labor-Market Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 678.
  18. Jappelli, Tullio, 1990. "Who Is Credit Constrained in the U.S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-34, February.
  19. Assar Lindbeck & Dennis J. Snower, 1989. "The Insider-Outsider Theory of Employment and Unemployment," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026262074x, June.
  20. Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord86-1.
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