Dynamics of Fiscal Financing in the United States

Eric M. Leeper, Michael Plante, Nora Traum

NBER Working Paper No. 15160
Issued in July 2009
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth

Dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models that include policy rules for government spending, lump-sum transfers, and distortionary taxation on labor and capital income and on consumption expenditures are fit to U.S. data under a variety of specifications of fiscal policy rules. We obtain several results. First, the best fitting model allows a rich set of fiscal instruments to respond to stabilize debt. Second, responses of aggregate variables to fiscal policy shocks under rich fiscal rules can vary considerably from responses that allow only non-distortionary fiscal instruments to finance debt. Third, based on estimated policy rules, transfers, capital tax rates, and government spending have historically responded strongly to government debt, while labor taxes have responded more weakly. Fourth, all components of the intertemporal condition linking debt to expected discounted surpluses---transfers, spending, tax revenues, and discount factors---display instances where their expected movements are important in establishing equilibrium. Fifth, debt-financed fiscal shocks trigger long lasting dynamics so that short-run multipliers can differ markedly from long-run multipliers, even in their signs.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15160

Published: Leeper, Eric M. & Plante, Michael & Traum, Nora, 2010. "Dynamics of fiscal financing in the United States," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(2), pages 304-321, June. citation courtesy of

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