Slowdowns in the economy are inevitable. While it may be tempting to rely on Federal Reserve policy as a lone response to recessions, this would be a mistake; we know that fiscal stimulus is effective. Rather than wait for a crisis to strike before designing discretionary fiscal policy, we would be better served by preparing in advance. Enacting evidence-based automatic stabilizer proposals before the next recession will help the next recovery start faster, make job creation stronger, and restore confidence to businesses and households.
Automatic stabilizers are designed to expand during an economic downturn and contract during an expansion—providing timely and temporary fiscal stimulus. Boushey, Nunn, O’Donnell, and Shambaugh assess the various policy responses available to the federal government and argues that when well designed, automatic stabilizers can be an effective part of the policy tool kit for responding to recessions.