Government in the Economy • Nothing arouses as much controversy as the role of government in the economy. • Government can affect the macroeconomy in two ways: • Fiscal policy is the manipulation of government spending and taxation. • Monetary policy refers to the behavior of the Federal Reserve regarding the nation’s money supply.
What is Fiscal Policy? • Fiscal policy is the deliberate manipulation of government purchases, transfer payments, taxes, and borrowing in order to influence macroeconomic variables such as employment, the price level, and the level of GDP
Government in the Economy • Discretionary fiscal policy refers to deliberate changes in taxes or spending. • The government can not control certain aspects of the economy related to fiscal policy. For example: • The government can control tax rates but not tax revenue. Tax revenue depends on household income and the size of corporate profits. • Government spending depends on government decisions and the state of the economy.
Net Taxes (T), and Disposable Income (Yd) • Net taxes are taxes paid by firms and households to the government minus transfer payments made to households by the government. • Disposable, or after-tax, income (Yd ) equals total income minus taxes.
Adding Net Taxes (T) and Government Purchases (G) to the Circular Flow of Income
Adding Net Taxes (T) and Government Purchases (G) to the Circular Flow of Income • When government enters the picture, the aggregate income identity gets cut into three pieces: • And aggregate expenditure (AE) equals:
The Budget Deficit • A government’s budget deficit is the difference between what it spends (G) and what it collects in taxes (T) in a given period: • If G exceeds T, the government must borrow from the public to finance the deficit. It does so by selling Treasury bonds and bills. In this case, a part of household saving (S) goes to the government.
Adding Taxes to theConsumption Function • The aggregate consumption function is now a function of disposable, or after-tax, income.
The Government Spending Multiplier • The government spending multiplier is the ratio of the change in the equilibrium level of output to a change in government spending.
The Effect on GDP of an Increase in Government Spending $ C+I+G’+(X-M) 45o C+I+G+(X-M) Simple government expenditures multiplier = GDP/G = 1/(1-MPC) G Real GDP GDP
The Tax Multiplier • A tax cut increases disposable income, and leads to added consumption spending. Income will increase by a multiple of the decrease in taxes. • A tax cut has no direct impact on spending. The multiplier for a change in taxes is smaller than the multiplier for a change in government spending.
The Effect on GDP of a Decrease in Taxes $ C’+I+G+(X-M) 45o C+I+G+(X-M) Simple tax multiplier = GDP/T = -MPC/(1-MPC) Real GDP GDP
The Balanced-Budget Multiplier • The balanced-budget multiplier is the ratio of change in the equilibrium level of output to a change in government spending where the change in government spending is balanced by a change in taxes so as not to create any deficit.
The Balanced Budget Multiplier • A factor that show that identical changes in government purchases and net taxes change real GDP demanded by that same amount
Introduction • Before the 1930s, fiscal policy was not explicitly used to influence the macroeconomy • The classical approach implied that natural market forces, by way of flexible prices, wages, and interest rates, would move the economy toward its potential GDP • Thus there appeared to be no need for government intervention in the economy • Before the onset of the Great Depression, most economists believed that active fiscal policy would do more harm than good
The Great Depression and World War II • Three developments bolstered the use of fiscal policy • The publication of Keynes’ General Theory • War-time demand on production helped pull the U.S. out of the Great Depression • The Full Employment Act of 1946, which gave the federal government responsibility for promoting full employment and price stability
Automatic Stabilizers • Structural features of government spending and taxation that smooth fluctuations in disposable income over the business cycle • Examples include, • Our progressive income system with its increasing marginal income tax rates • Unemployment insurance • Welfare spending
The Economy’s Influenceon the Government Budget • Fiscal drag is the negative effect on the economy that occurs when average tax rates increase because taxpayers have moved into higher income brackets during an expansion.
The Golden Age of Keynesian Fiscal Policy to Stagflation • The Early 1960s provided support for Keynesian theories • In particular, President Kennedy’s 1964 income tax cut did much to boost the economy and reduce unemployment • However, the 1970s were marked by significant supply-side shocks (increases in oil prices in addition to crop failures) • The economic ills brought about by these supply-side shocks to the economy could not be remedied by demand-side Keynesian economic theories
Lags in Fiscal Policy • The time required to approve and implement fiscal legislation may hamper its effectiveness and weaken fiscal policy as a tool of economic stabilization • In the case of an oncoming recession, it may take time to • Recognize the coming recession • Implement the policy • Let the policy have its impact
Discretionary Policy and Permanent Income • Permanent income is income that individuals expect to receive on average over the long run • To the extent that consumers base spending decisions on their permanent income, attempts to fine-tune the economy through discretionary fiscal policy will be less effective
The Government Budget • A plan for government expenditures and revenues for a specified period, usually a year
The Federal Budget • The federal budget is the budget of the federal government. • The difference between the federal government’s receipts and its expenditures is the federal surplus (+) or deficit (-).
The Presidential Role in the Budget Process • Early in this century, the president had very little involvement in the development of the federal budget • By the mid-1970s the president had been given the resources to translate policy into a budget proposal to be presented to Congress • Office of Management and Budget (1921) • Employment Act of 1946 (Council of Economic Advisers)
The Presidential Role in the Budget Process (continued) • The development of the president’s budget begins a year before it is submitted to Congress • The presidents proposed budget (The Budget of the United States Government) is supported by the Economic Report of the President • The budget is submitted in January for the upcoming fiscal year October 1-September 30
The Congressional Role in the Budget Process • House and Senate budget committees review the president’s budget proposal • An overall budget outline is approved by Congress (budget resolution) and given to the various congressional committees and subcommittees which authorize federal spending
Budget Deficits and Surpluses • When budgeted expenditures exceed projected tax revenues, the budget is projected to be in deficit • When projected tax revenues exceed budgeted expenditures, the budget is projected to be in surplus
The Federal Government Surplus (+) or Deficit (-) as a Percentage of GDP, 1970 I-2003 II
Problems with the Budget Process • Continuing resolutions • A continuing resolution is a budget agreement that allows agencies, in the absence of an approved budget, to spend at the rate of the previous year’s budget • Continuing resolutions are implemented due to delays in the budget process or problems with content of the budget • Overlapping committee authority • Length of the budget process • Uncontrollable budget items • Overly detailed budget
Entitlement Programs • Guaranteed benefits for those who qualify under government transfer programs such as Social Security and Aid to Families with Dependent Children • These programs represent a major “fixed” element of the budget, unless laws are passed to change eligibility requirements
Suggestions for Budget Reform • Biennial budget • The elimination of line item details before Congress • Congress would consider only the overall budget for a given agency, rather that detailed line items
Rationale for Budget Deficits • Large capital projects (highways, etc.) • The benefits from these project will benefit more than current taxpayers, so deficit financing is appropriate • Major Wars • Keynesian economics points to the use of deficits to stimulate the economy during periods of economic slowdown • Automatic stabilizers tend to increase deficits, since during times of recession, taxes are reduced while unemployment insurance and welfare payments are increased
Budget Philosophies • Annually balanced budget—Budget philosophy prior to the Great Depression; aimed at equating revenues with expenditures, except during times of war • Cyclically balanced budget—Budget philosophy calling for budget deficits during recessions to be financed by budget surpluses during expansions • Functional Finance—A budget philosophy aiming fiscal policy at achieving potential GDP rather than balancing budgets either annually or over the business cycle
Crowding Out and Crowding In • Crowding out--When the government undertakes expansionary fiscal policy, interest rates increase due to competition for borrowed funds and increased transactions demand for money • As a result, private investment is “crowded out” due to increases in public investment • Crowding in—If expansionary fiscal policy raises the general level of prosperity in the economy, private investors may expect greater investment-related profits, causing private investment to increase
Deficits and Interest Rates • Financing Deficits • Taxes • Bonds (borrowing) • Printing Money • Ricardian Equivalence
The Federal Deficit Versus the National Debt • The federal deficit is a flow variable measuring the amount by which expenditures exceed revenues in a particular year • The national debt is a stock variable measuring the accumulation of past deficits • In the U.S., it took 200 years for the national debt to reach $1 trillion • After the debt reached this level, it took only 15 years for the debt to reach the $5 trillion level
The Debt and Problems • http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/ • Arguments about the Debt • We have to pay it back • We owe it to ourselves (much less so than years ago).