The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The recent slowdown in the U.S. economy has led to state and local government tax increases and expenditure cuts that have lowered aggregate demand, in contrast to earlier downturns when the sector provided significant automatic stabilizers. Several explanations for this change are examined, including the role of federal grants, mandates, tax revolts, and compensation. The first three factors are found to be relatively unimportant. There does, however, appear to have been a large change in relative compensation over the 1980s, which can account for much of the deterioration in finances.