NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Fiscal Volatility Shocks and Economic Activity

Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, Pablo A. Guerrón-Quintana, Keith Kuester, Juan Rubio-Ramírez

NBER Working Paper No. 17317
Issued in August 2011
NBER Program(s):   EFG

We study the effects of changes in uncertainty about future fiscal policy on aggregate economic activity. Fiscal deficits and public debt have risen sharply in the wake of the financial crisis. While these developments make fiscal consolidation inevitable, there is considerable uncertainty about the policy mix and timing of such budgetary adjustment. To evaluate the consequences of this increased uncertainty, we first estimate tax and spending processes for the U.S. that allow for time-varying volatility. We then feed these processes into an otherwise standard New Keynesian business cycle model calibrated to the U.S. economy. We find that fiscal volatility shocks have an adverse effect on economic activity that is comparable to the effects of a 25-basis-point innovation in the federal funds rate.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17317

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