Thursday, October 24, 2013

24/10/2013: Fiscal Policy: To Bail Directly or Via Project Finance?

New paper "Macro Fiscal Policy in Economic Unions: States as Agents" by Gerald Carlino, and Robert P. Inman (NBER Working Paper No. 19559 published October 2013) argues that ARRA (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) was the US government’s fiscal policy (as opposed to monetary policy QEs programmes) response to the Great Recession. "An important component of ARRA’s $796 billion proposed budget was $318 billion in fiscal assistance to state and local governments."

The study "reaches three conclusions.

  1. "First, aggregate federal transfers to state and local governments are less stimulative than are transfers to households and firms. It is important to evaluate the two policies separately." Note: I have argued that in the current extreme case of debt overhang on household side, monetary policy can act directly to monetize debt (effectively cover household debt write downs) instead of attempting tod sliver support for deleveraging via traditional channels (banks --> firms & households, or government --> firms & households).
  2. "Second, within intergovernmental transfers, matching (price) transfers for welfare spending are more effective for stimulating GDP growth than are unconstrained (income) transfers for project spending. Matching aid is fully spent on welfare services or middle-class tax relief; half of project aid is saved and only slowly spent in future years." Again, direct injections to households will work better than indirect stimulus via 'infrastructure projects' or neo-Keynesian 'digging of the trenches'… However, this effect for the US is obviously linked to the less open nature of the US economy than say in the case of smaller economies of Europe.
  3. "Third, simulations using the SVAR specification suggest ARRA assistance would have been 30 percent more effective in stimulating GDP growth had the share spent on government purchases and project aid been fully allocated to private sector tax relief and to matching aid to states for lower-income support."

From the paper: Federal Aid, Federal Purchases, and Federal Net Revenue: 1947 - 2010*
(Per Capita, 2005 Dollars)

Now, look at the above and give a thought to the fact that Paul Krugman still thinks there was not enough stimulus...

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