Fiscal Policy in the United States: Automatic Stabilizers, Discretionary Fiscal Policy Actions, and the Economy
24 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2012
Date Written: March 25, 2010
We examine the effects of the economy on the government budget as well as the effects of the budget on the economy. First, we provide measures of the effects of automatic stabilizers on budget outcomes at the federal and state and local levels. For the federal government, the deficit increases about 0.35 per cent of GDP for each 1 percentage point deviation of actual GDP relative to potential GDP. For state and local governments, the deficit increases by about 0.1 per cent of GDP. We then examine the response of the economy to the automatic stabilizers using the FRB/US model by comparing the response to aggregate demand shocks under two scenarios: with the automatic stabilizers in place and without the automatic stabilizers. Second, we provide measures of discretionary fiscal policy actions at the federal and state and local levels. We find that federal policy actions are somewhat counter-cyclical while state and local policy actions have been somewhat pro-cyclical. Finally, we evaluate the impact of the budget, from both automatic stabilizers and discretionary actions, on economic activity in 2008 and 2009.
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