NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Fiscal Stimulus and Fiscal Sustainability

Alan J. Auerbach, Yuriy Gorodnichenko

NBER Working Paper No. 23789
Issued in September 2017
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Public Economics

The Great Recession and the Global Financial Crisis have left many developed countries with low interest rates and high levels of public debt, thus limiting the ability of policymakers to fight the next recession. Whether new fiscal stimulus programs would be jeopardized by these already heavy public debt burdens is a central question. For a sample of developed countries, we find that government spending shocks do not lead to persistent increases in debt-to-GDP ratios or costs of borrowing, especially during periods of economic weakness. Indeed, fiscal stimulus in a weak economy can improve fiscal sustainability along the metrics we study. Even in countries with high public debt, the penalty for activist discretionary fiscal policy appears to be small.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23789

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