February 2012

The Analytics of SVARs: A Unified Framework to Measure Fiscal Multipliers

Dario Caldara and Christophe Kamps


Does fiscal policy stimulate output? SVARs have been used to address this question but no stylized facts have emerged. We derive analytical relationships between the output elasticities of fiscal variables and fiscal multipliers. We show that standard identification schemes imply different priors on elasticities, generating a large dispersion in multiplier estimates. We then use extra-model information to narrow the set of empirically plausible elasticities, allowing for sharper inference on multipliers. Our results for the U.S. for the period 1947-2006 suggest that the probability of the tax multiplier being larger than the spending multiplier is below 0.5 at all horizons.

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Keywords: Fiscal policy, identification, vector autoregressions

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Last Update: July 10, 2020