HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Professor of the Practice of Public Policy, HKS; Professor of the Practice of Economics, FAS


Countercyclical fiscal policy generally focuses on national economic downturns. But US states experience significantly different patterns of unemployment, and demand shocks appear to drive much of that variation. State budget rules limit the ability of states to mount their own countercyclical policies. Federal taxes and spending programs have countercyclical effects within states, but the magnitude of those effects depends on policies that were designed based on other considerations (just as the extent of national automatic stabilizers is the result of policies based on other considerations). Enacting countercyclical fiscal policy calibrated to state unemployment rates would reduce the cost of recessions.


Dynan, Karen, and Douglas Elmendorf. "National Fiscal Policies to Fight Recessions in US States." AEA Papers and Proceedings 110 (May 2020): 131-136.