Found 534 article(s) in category 'Fiscal Policy'

The Economic Context for Reforming the Safety Net

The Economic Context for Reforming the Safety Net. Karen Dynan, November 6, 2019, Paper, “As we wrestle with the future of our safety net and social insurance programs, it is important to understand not only the features and outcomes associated with individual programs but also the broader economic context. This reflection piece discusses several relevant aspects of the macroeconomy and of economic and financial conditions facing households: rising government debt, slower macroeconomic growth, limited tools to fight future recessions, greater income inequality, and the financial struggles of households. It goes on to draw lessons for how we should reform our system of entitlement programs.Link

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Warren’s plan to finance Medicare-for-all pushes into dangerous and uncharted territory

Warren’s plan to finance Medicare-for-all pushes into dangerous and uncharted territory. Lawrence Summers, November 5, 2019, Opinion, “Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren last week mounted a passionate defense of universal government-provided health care and made a detailed case that it can be paid for without burdening the middle class. The vision of Medicare-for-all is immensely attractive and evokes health systems in other countries that perform much better than ours does. I could easily imagine supporting a well-designed Medicare-for-all plan.Link

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A Unified Welfare Analysis of Government Policies

A Unified Welfare Analysis of Government Policies. Nathaniel Hendren, August 2018, Paper, “We conduct a comparative welfare analysis of 133 historical policy changes over the past half-century in the United States, focusing on policies in social insurance, education and job training, taxes and cash transfers, and in-kind transfers. For each policy, we use existing causal estimates to calculate both the benefit that each policy provides its recipients (measured as their willingness to pay) and the policy’s net cost, inclusive of long-term impacts on the government’s budget. We divide the willingness to pay by the net cost to the government to form each policy’s Marginal Value of Public Funds, or its “MVPF”. Comparing MVPFs across policies provides a unified method of assessing their impact on social welfare. Our results suggest that direct investments in low-income children’s health and education have historically had the highest MVPFs, on average exceeding 5. Many such policies have paid for themselves as governments recouped the cost of their initial expenditures through additional taxes collected and reduced transfers.Link

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When Do Development Projects Enhance Community Well-Being?

When Do Development Projects Enhance Community Well-Being? Michael Woolcock, July 4, 2019, Paper, “Many development agencies and governments now seek to engage directly with local communities, whether as a means to the realization of more familiar goals (infrastructure, healthcare, education) or as an end in itself (promoting greater inclusion, participation, well-being). These same agencies and governments, however, are also under increasing pressure to formally demonstrate that their actions ‘work’ and achieve their goals within relatively short timeframes – expectations which are, for the most part, necessary and desirable. But adequately assessing ‘community-driven’ approaches to development requires the deployment of theory and methods that accommodate their distinctive characteristics: building bridges is a qualitatively different task to building the rule of law and empowering minorities. Moreover, the ‘lessons’ inferred from average treatment effects derived from even the most rigorous assessments of community-driven interventions are unlikely to translate cleanly to different contexts and scales of operation. Some guidance for anticipating and managing these conundrums are provided.Link

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Be very skeptical about how much revenue Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax could generate

Be very skeptical about how much revenue Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax could generate. Lawrence Summers, June 28, 2019, Opinion, “Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has made her proposed 2 percent wealth tax on those worth more than $50 million a central part of her presidential campaign. Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, two economists at the University of California at Berkeley, who helped developed the proposal, estimated it it would rake in $187 billion a year. In April, we published a piece in the Washington Post suggesting that this estimate was likely overly optimistic. This week, Saez and Zucman published a rejoinder.” Link

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Trump Is Slowing US Economic Growth

Trump Is Slowing US Economic Growth. Robert Barro, June 4, 2019, Opinion, “The current state of US macroeconomic policymaking across four key areas does not bode well. Although the 2017 tax legislation has done its job in promoting faster growth, rising trade tensions, persistent regulatory burdens, and a lack of investment in infrastructure all threaten to limit the US economy’s potential.Link

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Effects of Austerity: Expenditure- and Tax-based Approaches

Effects of Austerity: Expenditure- and Tax-based Approaches. Alberto Alesina, Spring 2019, Paper, “Sometimes governments need to reduce their budget deficits aggressively. These policies are labeled “austerity.” Almost always austerity is needed because excessive debt has been accumulated, as a result of policy mistakes and political distortions (Alesina and Passalacqua 2016; Yared, in this issue). The austerity policies embraced by several European countries starting in 2010 have generated an extraordinarily harsh policy debate. One side has argued that austerity is (almost) always a bad idea. From this perspective, even European countries that were experiencing serious difficulties in financial markets—either by being totally cut off from borrowing like Greece, or by paying high risk premia like Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy—should have continued to stimulate their economies with high levels of government spending. Austerity, the argument continues, was self-defeating because the recessions it induced, or extended, only increased government debt as a ratio of GDP. Blanchard and Leigh (2014) argued that this round of austerity was particularly costly: in other words, fiscal multipliers were especially high. The other side argued that postponing austerity would have caused Effects.Link

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Evolution or Revolution? Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy after the Great Recession

Evolution or Revolution? Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy after the Great Recession. Lawrence Summers, 2019, Book, “Leading economists discuss post–financial crisis policy dilemmas, including the dangers of complacency in a period of relative stability. The Great Depression led to the Keynesian revolution and dramatic shifts in macroeconomic theory and macroeconomic policy. Similarly, the stagflation of the 1970s led to the adoption of the natural rate hypothesis and to a major reassessment of the role of macroeconomic policy. Should the financial crisis and the Great Recession lead to yet another major reassessment, to another intellectual revolution? Will it? If so, what form should it, or will it, take? These are the questions taken up in this book, in a series of contributions by policymakers and academics. The contributors discuss the complex role of the financial sector, the relative roles of monetary and fiscal policy, the limits of monetary policy to address financial stability, the need for fiscal policy to play a more active role in stabilization, and the relative roles of financial regulation and macroprudential tools. The general message is a warning against going back to precrisis ways—to narrow inflation targeting, little use of fiscal policy for stabilization, and insufficient financial regulation.Link

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On falling neutral real rates, fiscal policy, and the risk of secular stagnation

On falling neutral real rates, fiscal policy, and the risk of secular stagnation. Lawrence Summers, March 7, 2019, Paper, “This paper demonstrates that neutral real interest rates would have declined by far more than what has been observed in the industrial world and would in all likelihood be significantly negative but for offsetting fiscal policies over the last generation. We start by arguing that neutral real interest rates are best estimated for the block of all industrial economies given capital mobility between them and relatively limited fluctuations in their collective current account. We show, using standard econometric procedures and looking at direct market indicators of prospective real rates, that neutral real interest rates have declined by at least 300 basis points over the last generation. We argue that these secular movements are in larger part a reflection of changes in saving and investment propensities rather than the safety and liquidity properties of Treasury instruments.Link

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