NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Ethan Ilzetzki

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Working Papers and Chapters

January 2011Kosher Pork
with Allan Drazen: w16667
Both conventional wisdom and leading academic research view pork barrel spending as antithetical to responsible policymaking in times of crisis. In this paper we present an alternative view. When agents are heterogeneous in their ideology and in their information about the economic situation, allocation of pork may enable passage of legislation appropriate to a "crisis" that might otherwise not pass. Pork "greases the legislative wheels" not by bribing legislators to accept legislation they view as harmful, but by conveying information about the necessity of policy change, where it may be impossible to convey such information in the absence of pork. Pork may be used for this function in situations where all legislators would agree to forgo pork under full information. Moreover, pork will b...
October 2010How Big (Small?) are Fiscal Multipliers?
with Enrique G. Mendoza, Carlos A. VĂ©gh: w16479
We contribute to the debate on the macroeconomic effects of fiscal stimuli by showing that the impact of government expenditure shocks depends crucially on key country characteristics, such as the level of development, exchange rate regime, openness to trade, and public indebtedness. Based on a novel quarterly dataset of government expenditure in 44 countries, we find that (i) the output effect of an increase in government consumption is larger in industrial than in developing countries, (ii) the fiscal multiplier is relatively large in economies operating under predetermined exchange rates but is zero in economies operating under flexible exchange rates; (iii) fiscal multipliers in open economies are smaller than in closed economies; (iv) fiscal multipliers in high-debt countries are nega...
July 2008Procyclical Fiscal Policy in Developing Countries: Truth or Fiction?
with Carlos A. Vegh: w14191
A large empirical literature has found that fiscal policy in developing countries is procyclical, in contrast to high-income countries where it is countercyclical. The idea that fiscal policy in developing countries is procyclical has all but reached the status of conventional wisdom. This has sparked a growing theoretical literature that attempts to explain such a puzzle. Some authors, however, have suggested that procyclical fiscal policy could be more fiction than truth since, by and large, the current literature has ignored endogeneity problems and may have simply misidentified a standard expansionary effect of fiscal policy. To settle this issue of causality, we build a novel quarterly dataset for 49 countries covering the period 1960-2006, and subject the data to a battery of econome...

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