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Subject:  Are Budget Cuts Or Tax Hikes Better For Economy? Date:  11/21/2012  1:08 PM
Author:  MadCapitalist Number:  656359 of 882353

Are Budget Cuts Or Tax Hikes Better For The Economy?

"The deficit debate is often misleading, however, because it tends to ignore a huge difference between the two kinds of deficit reduction. The evidence speaks loud and clear: When governments reduce deficits by raising taxes, they are indeed likely to witness deep, prolonged recessions. But when governments attack deficits by cutting spending, the results are very different.

In 2011, the International Monetary Fund identified episodes from 1980 to 2005 in which 17 developed countries had aggressively reduced deficits. The IMF classified each episode as either "expenditure-based" or "tax-based," depending on whether the government had mainly cut spending or hiked taxes.

When Carlo Favero, Francesco Giavazzi and I studied the results, it turned out that the two kinds of deficit reduction had starkly different effects: cutting spending resulted in very small, short-lived — if any — recessions, and raising taxes resulted in prolonged recessions.

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The obvious economic challenge to our contention is: What keeps an economy from slumping when government spending, a major component of aggregate demand, goes down? That is, if the economy doesn't enter recession, some other component of aggregate demand must necessarily be rising to make up for the reduced government spending — and what is it? The answer: private investment.

Our research found that private-sector capital accumulation rose after the spending-cut deficit reductions, with firms investing more in productive activities — for example, buying machinery and opening new plants. After the tax-hike deficit reductions, capital accumulation dropped.


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Let's be clear: This body of evidence doesn't mean that cutting government spending always leads to economic booms. Rather, it shows that spending cuts are much less costly for the economy than tax hikes and that a carefully designed deficit-reduction plan, based on spending cuts and pro-growth policies, may completely eliminate the output loss that you'd expect from such cuts. Tax-based deficit reduction, by contrast, is always recessionary.

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A deficit-reduction program of carefully designed spending cuts can reduce debt without killing growth, so there's no need to be so protective even of today's weak economies."

http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-viewpoint/112012-63...

I recommend reading the whole thing. Alesina also discusses *why* he thinks investment increases after spending is cut.
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