NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Clearing Up the Fiscal Multiplier Morass

Eric M. Leeper, Nora Traum, Todd B. Walker

NBER Working Paper No. 17444
Issued in September 2011
NBER Program(s):   EFG

Bayesian prior predictive analysis of five nested DSGE models suggests that model specifications and prior distributions tightly circumscribe the range of possible government spending multipliers. Multipliers are decomposed into wealth and substitution effects, yielding uniform comparisons across models. By constraining the multiplier to tight ranges, model and prior selections bias results, revealing less about fiscal effects in data than about the lenses through which researchers choose to interpret data. When monetary policy actively targets inflation, output multipliers can exceed one, but investment multipliers are likely to be negative. Passive monetary policy produces consistently strong multipliers for output, consumption, and investment.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17444

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