Review of Keynesian Economics

Fiscal policy: a strong macroeconomic role

Philip Arestis * *

Keywords: fiscal policy, coordination of fiscal and monetary/financial policies


Current macroeconomics, the ‘New Consensus Macroeconomics’, downgrades significantly the role of fiscal policy as a stabilisation instrument of macroeconomic policy. This paper argues that fiscal policy deserves to be properly upgraded. More recent theoretical and empirical developments on the fiscal policy front are closely examined. This examination reveals that these developments lead to the conclusion that fiscal policy is not as ineffective as argued by the ‘New Consensus Macroeconomics’ proponents. On the contrary, it has a strong macroeconomic role. It is also the case that, in view of the ‘Great Recession’, financial stability has been shown to be very important in economic policy but had been ignored prior to it. The paper argues strongly that fiscal policy is actually a strong macroeconomic stabilisation instrument, especially so when it is coordinated not only with monetary policy but also and closely with financial stability policies – with such coordination-embracing income distribution. Fiscal policy should thereby be restored to its proper upgraded role in terms of economic policy. It is, therefore, high time economists and economic policymakers turned their attention more closely and seriously to this aspect and restored fiscal policy to its strong macroeconomic role.

Author Notes

I am very grateful to Malcolm Sawyer and Tom Palley for their comments and positive suggestions, which no doubt improved the paper. The usual disclaimer applies, of course.

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