Henrique Basso, Omar Rachedi, 03 August 2020

Advanced and developing economies are experiencing a swift process of population ageing that will shape both long-run macroeconomic trends, such as economic growth, as well as short-term business cycle fluctuations. Although the implications of population ageing on countries’ fiscal capacity have been extensively analysed, this column argues that secular shifts in demographics can also influence the effectiveness of fiscal policy as a demand-management tool. Using a New Keynesian model with a lifecycle structure,  it shows that output fiscal multipliers are larger in younger economies.

Lucyna Gornicka, Christophe Kamps, Gerrit Koester, Nadine Leiner-Killinger, 23 January 2020

Recent studies have highlighted that the fiscal multipliers used by institutional forecasters were gradually adjusted upwards as the European sovereign debt crisis developed. This column confirms this finding, using a new dataset compiled from European Commission forecasts under the Excessive Deficit Procedure of the Stability and Growth Pact. In contrast to previous claims that the fiscal multiplier rose well above one at the height of the crisis, however, the authors argue that the ‘true’ ex-post multiplier remained below one.

Paweł Kopiec, 06 December 2019

Research shows that individual spending behaviour is heterogeneous across households and that it depends on characteristics such as income and wealth. Using Italian data, this column shows that household heterogeneity plays a crucial role in the propagation of fiscal expenditure shocks. Household inequality gives rise to a rich set of new channels that propagate government expenditures shocks through consumer spending, which are related to households’ balance sheets and monetary-fiscal interactions. The values of the fiscal multiplier diverge from those predicted by the standard macroeconomic framework and the difference is particularly large at the zero lower bound.

Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 14 October 2019

With an economic slowdown looming in the euro area, how should fiscal policies respond? This column uses a behavioural macroeconomic framework to investigate the trade-offs between stabilising output and public debt. It proposes that, when the interest rate is lower than the growth rate of the economy, fiscal policy can be used as a tool for output stabilisation while keeping public debt stable. It argues that many EU countries have the fiscal space to stimulate their economies, which could help in preventing a recession.

Christoph Boehm, 07 September 2019

Fiscal stimulus packages typically feature large investment in infrastructure. The column argues that the fiscal multiplier associated with government investment during the Great Recession was near zero. Meanwhile, the government consumption multiplier was around 0.8. Estimates of the multiplier for total government purchases do not distinguish these two effects, which may affect their validity.

Giovanni Caggiano, Efrem Castelnuovo, 23 June 2015

There is no consensus on the effectiveness of government spending as a measure for boosting output. This column suggests that increasing government spending is highly effective exactly when it is most needed – when the economy is experiencing a deep recession. But the finding does not imply a one-size-fits-all recommendation. There are potential dangers in increasing spending in countries whose level of debt might be perceived as unsustainable.

Valerie Ramey, Sarah Zubairy, 23 January 2015

There is no consensus among economists about the size of the multiplier of government purchases. It is not clear either how multipliers vary with the state of the economy. This column presents new evidence on this issue using large historical data set from the US. The findings suggest that there is no evidence that fiscal multipliers differ by the amount of unemployment or the degree of monetary accommodation. 

Joseph Stiglitz, 09 May 2013

The world has seen a hundred financial crises in the past three decades. In this column, Nobelist Joe Stiglitz argues that we could have done much more to prevent this crisis and to mitigate its effects. Looking ahead, we can do much more to prevent the next one. This is a chance to revolutionise flawed economic models, and perhaps exit from an interminable cycle of crises.

David Romer, 09 May 2013

Pre-2008 macroeconomic thinking largely ignored the financial sector as a source of shocks. This column argues that such shocks are not rare, so we need a fundamental rethink of the financial system and macroeconomic policy frameworks. We must think about strong measures that would minimise the chances of anything similar happening again. The reforms considered to date are too small and too meek.

Olivier Blanchard, 09 May 2013

Macroeconomics was challenged by the Global Crisis. In this column, one of the world’s leading macroeconomists provides his take on the highlights of the IMF’s recent conference. He concludes by noting that the conference set a clear research agenda for the future.

George Akerlof, 09 May 2013

Economists did very badly in predicting the crisis. But in this column, Nobelist George Akerlof argues that the economic policies post-crisis have been close to what a sensible ‘economist-doctor’ would have ordered. The lesson for the future is that good economics and common sense have worked well. We have had trial and success. We must keep this in mind with policy going forward.

Emi Nakamura, Jón Steinsson, 02 October 2011

A major question facing many governments in the rich world today is whether we should try to stimulate the economy by increasing government spending. This column exploit variation in military spending across US states and identifies a fiscal multiplier of around 1.5. It then suggests that aggregate fiscal stimulus should have large output multipliers when the economy is at the zero lower bound.

Giancarlo Corsetti, Saverio Simonelli, Antonio Acconcia, 04 April 2011

Few things divide the economics profession more than this question: How much economic activity does $1 of government spending generate? This column provides a new angle. Looking at local councils in Italy between 1990 and 1999, it examines variation in budgets due to the removal of funds by central government if mafia involvement is suspected. It finds that the fiscal multiplier starts at 1.4 and rises to 2.0.

Enrique Mendoza, Carlos Vegh, Ethan Ilzetzki, 01 October 2009

How much stimulus does spending provide? This column says that fiscal multipliers are much weaker in countries that have high debt, lower income, flexible exchange rates, and greater international openness. Policymakers should consider these characteristics when evaluating the benefits of any fiscal stimulus package.


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