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Revisiting the narrative approach of estimating tax multipliers

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  • Hebous, Shafik
  • Zimmermann, Tom

Abstract

A number of recent studies regress a "narratively" identified measure of a macroeconomic shock directly on an outcome variable. In this note, we argue that this approach can be viewed as the reduced-form regression of an instrumental variable approach in which the narrative time series is used as an instrument for an endogenous series of interest. This motivates evaluating the validity of narrative measures through the lens of a randomized experiment. We apply our framework to four recently constructed narrative measures of tax shocks by Romer and Romer (2010), Cloyne (2013), and Mertens and Ravn (2012). All of them turn out to be weak instruments for observable measures of taxes. After correcting for weak instruments, we find that using any of the considered narrative tax measures as an instrument for cyclically adjusted tax revenues yields tax multiplier estimates that are indistinguishable from zero. We conclude that the literature currently understates the uncertainty associated with quantifying the tax multiplier.

Suggested Citation

  • Hebous, Shafik & Zimmermann, Tom, 2015. "Revisiting the narrative approach of estimating tax multipliers," SAFE Working Paper Series 93, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:safewp:93
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    Cited by:

    1. Frederico Lima & Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, 2018. "Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Rate and Base Changes: Evidence from Fiscal Consolidations," IMF Working Papers 2018/220, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Georgios Karras, 2019. "Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Evidence from a Sample of OECD Countries," SPOUDAI Journal of Economics and Business, SPOUDAI Journal of Economics and Business, University of Piraeus, vol. 69(3), pages 111-138, July-Sept.
    3. Désirée I. Christofzik & Angela Fuest & Robin Jessen, 2022. "Macroeconomic Effects of the Anticipation and Implementation of Tax Changes in Germany: Evidence from a Narrative Account," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 89(353), pages 62-81, January.
    4. van der Wielen, Wouter, 2020. "The macroeconomic effects of tax changes: Evidence using real-time data for the European Union," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 302-321.
    5. Désirée I. Christofzik & Angela Fuest & Robin Jessen, 2022. "Macroeconomic Effects of the Anticipation and Implementation of Tax Changes in Germany: Evidence from a Narrative Account," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 89(353), pages 62-81, January.
    6. Niels Gilbert, 2019. "Euro area sovereign risk spillovers before and after the ECB's OMT announcement," DNB Working Papers 636, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    7. Winter, Christoph & Kraus, Beatrice, 2016. "Do Tax Changes Affect Credit Markets and Financial Frictions? Evidence from Credit Spreads," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145636, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Kim, Wongi, 2019. "Government spending policy uncertainty and economic activity: US time series evidence," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1-1.
    9. Richard McManus, 2018. "Fiscal Trade‐Offs: The Relationship Between Output and Debt in Policy Interventions," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 86(S1), pages 50-82, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Narrative Approach; Fiscal Stabilization; Tax Multiplier; Weak Instruments;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • E69 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Other
    • C54 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Quantitative Policy Modeling

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