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Do Deficits Crowd Out Private Borrowing? Evidence From Flow Of Funds Accounts

John Heim ()

Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics

Abstract: Heim (2010) found a strong negative relationship between deficits and private consumer and investment spending, controlling for other key variables. The study did not directly test the mechanism by which deficits were related to consumer and investment spending, only the result. Crowd out theory hypothesizes the mechanism is consumer and investment credit shortages induced by borrowing -financed government deficits. This paper examines that mechanism directly, testing to see if private borrowing is related to deficits. It uses Federal Reserve Flow of Funds accounts data on borrowing. The paper finds a strong negative relationship between deficits and private borrowing, with deficits reducing private borrowing dollar for dollar. The borrowing estimates are very similar to the Heim (2010) estimates of deficit effects on consumer and investment spending, suggesting crowd out effects work through the borrowing channel and fully offset the stimulus effects of deficits. Flow of Funds data on savings and investment, for accounting reasons, confirm the econometric findings of full crowd out, provided savings remain constant.

JEL-codes: C50 C51 E12 E21 E22 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011-06
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