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Expansionary contractions and fiscal free lunches: too good to be true

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Publication details

JournalScandinavian Journal of Economics
DateAccepted/In press - 17 Aug 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 11 Sep 2017
DatePublished (current) - 30 Nov 2018
Issue number1
Volume121
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)32-54
Early online date11/09/17
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper builds a framework to jointly examine the possibilities of both expansionary fiscal contractions (austerity increasing output) and fiscal free lunches (expansions reducing government debt), arguments which in recent debates have been supported by the austerity and stimulus camps, respectively. We propose a new metric quantifying the budgetary implications of fiscal action, a key aspect of fiscal policy particularly at the monetary zero lower bound. We find that austerity needs to be highly persistent and credible in order to be expansionary, and stimulus needs to be temporary, responsive, and well-targeted in order to lower debt. We conclude that neither is likely, especially during periods of economic distress.

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© 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

    Research areas

  • Austerity versus stimulus, fiscal policy, zero lower bound

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