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Finance and Economics Discussion Series
The Finance and Economics Discussion Series logo links to FEDS home page An Analysis of Government Spending in the Frequency Domain
Darrel Cohen

Abstract: This paper utilizes frequency-domain techniques to identify and characterize economically important properties of government spending. Using post-war data for the United States, the paper first identifies peaks in the estimated spectra of the major components of fiscal spending. Second, the paper examines the relationship between these fiscal variables and various measures of aggregate economic activity. The analysis reveals that defense spending is best modeled as exogenous with respect to the aggregate economy and that nondefense spending (growth) appears to be white noise. Further, the unemployment rate has a very high coherency at the business cycle frequencies with unemployment insurance but far smaller coherency with other transfer payments. Finally, the paper finds a moderate degree of direct substitutability between certain types of government spending and private consumption and in the process illustrates how spectral techniques can be readily combined with a standard intertemporal optimizing model.

Keywords: Government spending, spectral analysis

Full paper (2841 KB PDF)

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Last update: July 6, 1999