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NBER Public Economics Program Meeting November 4 2010, Cambridge MA Jonathan A. Parker PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Discussion of “The Effects of Fiscal Stimulus: Evidence from the 2009 Cash for Clunkers Program” by Atif Mian and Amir Sufi. NBER Public Economics Program Meeting November 4 2010, Cambridge MA Jonathan A. Parker Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Outline.

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NBER Public Economics Program Meeting November 4 2010, Cambridge MA Jonathan A. Parker

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Nber public economics program meeting november 4 2010 cambridge ma jonathan a parker

Discussion of “The Effects of Fiscal Stimulus: Evidence from the 2009 Cash for Clunkers Program”by AtifMian and Amir Sufi

NBER Public Economics Program Meeting

November 4 2010, Cambridge MA

Jonathan A. Parker

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University


Outline

Outline

  • Summary

  • Kick the tires

  • Is this consistent with what we know?

  • Did CARS work?


1 summary of paper

1. Summary of paper


1 summary of paper1

1. Summary of paper

  • Big effect on impact

    • Reasonably precise estimation

    • CARS caused 360,000 purchases about half of CARS purchases

  • Reversed after a few months

    • Big standard errors: 95% confidence interval can’t reject no reversal


1 summary of paper2

1. Summary of paper

  • Big effect on impact

    • Reasonably precise estimation

    • CARS caused 360,000 purchases, about half of CARS purchases

  • Reversed after a few months

    • Big standard errors on cumulative

  • There is a shred of evidence on the next direct step in the multiplier and it is big (needs work)

    • Auto employment is 0.6% higher in the year following CARS


2 kicking the tires

2. Kicking the tires

  • Rules complex, measurement of clunkers not

    • Ratio of clunkers to cars averages either 0.5 or 0.17

  • Scaling purchases and clunkers a concern

    3. Estimation of total effect assumes no effect in bottom decile of

    4. Heterogeneity in responses rural/culture


  • Nber public economics program meeting november 4 2010 cambridge ma jonathan a parker

    Rural and Northern

    Southern and small/urban


    2 kicking the tires1

    2. Kicking the tires

    • Rules complex, measurement of clunkers not

      • Ratio of clunkers to cars averages either 0.5 or 0.17

  • Scaling purchases and clunkers a concern

    3. Estimation of total effect assumes no effect in bottom decile of

    4. Heterogeneity in responses rural/culture

    • If Southern and rural states dislike green cars and like light trucks for doing farm work, they have lots of clunkers and low responsiveness to the program


  • 2 kicking the tires2

    2. Kicking the tires

    • Rules complex, measurement of clunkers not

      • Ratio of clunkers to cars averages either 0.5 or 0.17

  • Scaling purchases and clunkers a concern

    3. Estimation of total effect assumes no effect in bottom decile of

    4. Heterogeneity in responses rural/culture

    5. What causes the identifying variation?

    • eg: Florida, Nevada, Arizona vs S. Dakota


  • Nber public economics program meeting november 4 2010 cambridge ma jonathan a parker

    Farm states booming

    U-rates: N and S. Dakota lowest

    Subprime sand states . .

    U-rates: Nevada highest and Florida 4th highest


    2 kicking the tires3

    2. Kicking the tires

    • Rules complex, measurement of clunkers not

      • Ratio of clunkers to cars averages either 0.5 or 0.17

  • Scaling purchases and clunkers a concern

    3. Estimation of total effect assumes no effect in bottom decile of

    4. Heterogeneity in responses rural/culture

    5. What causes the identifying variation?

    • If “controls” imperfect (or endogenous), need a theory of what generates identifying variation


  • 3 external validity related evidence

    3. External validity (related evidence)

    • Incidence: Probably on consumer

      • Busse, Silva-Risso, and Zettelmeyer (AER 2006) Customers get 70-90% of dealer rebates that the customer knows about (but only 30-40% of those they do not)

        2. Reversal


    3 external validity related evidence1

    3. External validity (related evidence)

    • Incidence: Probably on consumer

      2. Reversal

      • Busse, Simester, Zettelmeyer (MS 2010):

        “Best Deal You’ll Ever Get”


    3 external validity related evidence2

    3. External validity (related evidence)

    • Incidence: Probably on consumer

      2. Reversal

      • Busse, Simester, Zettelmeyer (MS 2010): reversal

      • Parker, Souleles, Johnson, and McLelland (2010): no reversal


    4 did cars work

    4. Did CARS work?

    Complaint: the paper mixes discussion of the micro evidence, which is has, with discussion of general equilibrium effects on prices and output, which it does not. The paper’s tone is that CARS did not work.

    “Given the very swift program reversal associated with CARS, our results suggest that the net impact of the stimulus program – a program that cost $2.85 billion - is far smaller than initial gains in auto purchases suggest.” Only a little smaller and much bigger than the $2.85 billion.

    “The inter-temporal “crowding out” effect that we document in this paper is consistent with models that incorporate the Ricardian equivalence hypothesis, such as Barro (1974, 1979).” Yes, and with New Keynesian models, for example Christiano, Eichenbaum, Rebelo with huge multipliers at the ZLB.

    “Our findings do not warrant the claim that all forms of fiscal stimulus fail to boost long-run economic output.” The findings also do not warrant the claim that CARS failed to boost . .

    “. . .any argument that the CARS program had [a positive aggregate effect] must be consistent with (a) the sharp relative reduction in auto purchases we find in high CARS exposure cities after the program, and (b) the lack of any discernable relative impact on employment, house prices, or household defaults in high versus low CARS exposure cities.”

    (b) is consistent with a big aggregate effect in a small open economy, so lets see about the plausibility of (a)


    4 did cars work1

    4. Did CARS work?


    4 did cars work2

    4. Did CARS work?

    NBER dates recession as over!!!


    4 did cars work3

    4. Did CARS work?


    Nber public economics program meeting november 4 2010 cambridge ma jonathan a parker

    1. Big bang for buck: Cost $2.85 caused $38 billion in demand

    • Mian-Sufi: CARS cost $2.85 billion and caused 360,000 car purchases

    • If average new car cost $25,000 then estimates imply that CARS increased “demand” directly by $38 billion

    • Implies CARS increased PCE directly by 0.4% in 2009 Q3 and decreased PCE directly by 0.2% in 2009 Q4 and 2010 Q1 for only 2.5 billion


    4 did cars work4

    4. Did CARS work?


    Nber public economics program meeting november 4 2010 cambridge ma jonathan a parker

    1. Big bang for buck: Cost $2.85 caused $38 billion in demand

    • Aside: roughly half of purchases (360K/677K) would have occurred anyway

    • Could have other benefits: greener world

      2. The multiplier can be huge at the ZLB!

    • Or less any price effects (crowding out)


    Nber public economics program meeting november 4 2010 cambridge ma jonathan a parker

    1. Big bang for buck: Cost $2.85 caused $38 billion in demand

    • Aside: roughly half of purchases (360K/677K) would have occurred anyway

    • Could have other benefits: greener world

      2. The multiplier can be huge at the ZLB!

    • Or less any price effects (crowding out)

      3. But lots in ERRA besides CARS going on, no?


    Nber public economics program meeting november 4 2010 cambridge ma jonathan a parker

    Cogan and Taylor (2010)

    “Considering both the federal and the state and local sector, we find that the effects of ARRA on purchases to have been remarkably small for the first six quarters of the program despite the large overall size of ARRA.”

    Source: Figure 10 in Cogan and Taylor (2010) , NBEER WP 16505


    Nber public economics program meeting november 4 2010 cambridge ma jonathan a parker

    Cogan and Taylor (2010)

    “Considering both the federal and the state and local sector, we find that the effects of ARRA on purchases to have been remarkably small for the first six quarters of the program despite the large overall size of ARRA. . . . Basic economic theory implies that temporary increases in transfer payments have a much smaller impact than government purchases.”

    Not for CARS . . . CARS is about temporary price variation for an asset – intertemporal substitution strong


    Nber public economics program meeting november 4 2010 cambridge ma jonathan a parker

    1. Big bang for buck: Cost $2.85 caused $38 billion in demand

    • Aside: roughly half of purchases (360K/677K) would have occurred anyway

    • Could have other benefits: greener world

      2. The multiplier can be huge at the ZLB!

    • Or less any price effects (crowding out)

      3. Not lots in ERRA besides CARS going on, so CARS potentially useful

    • Temporary low price is a good way to generate demand (like investment tax credits)

    • But, reversal does take demand from the future


    Nber public economics program meeting november 4 2010 cambridge ma jonathan a parker

    Mian-Sufi: CARS caused a large amount of spending reversed in 6 months to a year

    Does not imply CARS did not significantly help stabilize the economy

    Quite plausible that CARS was highly successful and also plausible that it was not worth the expenditure


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