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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, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:safewp:93
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kathryn M. E. Dominguez & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2013. "Forecasting the Recovery from the Great Recession: Is This Time Different?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 147-152, May.
    2. Karel Mertens & Morten O. Ravn, 2013. "The Dynamic Effects of Personal and Corporate Income Tax Changes in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1212-1247, June.
    3. Valerie A. Ramey, 2011. "Identifying Government Spending Shocks: It's all in the Timing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 1-50.
    4. Bahaj, Saleem A., 2014. "Systemic sovereign risk: macroeconomic implications in the euro area," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58110, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 763-801, June.
    6. Alesina, Alberto & Favero, Carlo & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2015. "The output effect of fiscal consolidation plans," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(S1), pages 19-42.
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    8. Karel Mertens & Morten O. Ravn, 2012. "Empirical Evidence on the Aggregate Effects of Anticipated and Unanticipated US Tax Policy Shocks," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 145-181, May.
    9. Jaime Guajardo & Daniel Leigh & Andrea Pescatori, 2014. "Expansionary Austerity? International Evidence," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 949-968, August.
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    12. John Bluedorn & Daniel Leigh, 2011. "Revisiting the Twin Deficits Hypothesis: The Effect of Fiscal Consolidation on the Current Account," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 59(4), pages 582-602, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. van der Wielen, Wouter, 2019. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Reform: Evidence from the EU," JRC Working Papers on Taxation & Structural Reforms 2019-04, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    2. repec:bla:manchs:v:86:y:2018:i:s1:p:50-82 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. Winter, Christoph & Kraus, Beatrice, 2016. "Do Tax Changes Affect Credit Markets and Financial Frictions? Evidence from Credit Spreads," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145636, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Narrative Approach; Fiscal Stabilization; Tax Multiplier; Weak Instruments;

    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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