Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Plotting economic experts’ attitudes toward fiscal policy during the 2008 crisis

Tusset Gianfranco , University of Padua

At the outbreak of the 2008 financial and economic crisis, was fiscal policy considered by economic experts as a tool to counteract the consequences of the crisis? A review of the policies actually adopted can tell us something about the choices ultimately made, but little about the reaction of economic experts when faced with the possibility of resorting to fiscal policies. This is the subject of this paper: the analysis of attitudes and sentiments of policymakers and scholars towards fiscal policy as an instrument for combating the crisis. The economic experts we have chosen to analyze belong to two communities, central bankers and economists, both, albeit in different ways, called upon to take a stance on the use of fiscal policy in times of crisis. The stances of the two communities are reconstructed here by analyzing the speeches of central bankers and the papers of economists. The choice of text mining is motivated not only by the fact that it is widely used to reconstruct sentiment towards certain events, but also by the opportunity it offers to distinguish deeper attitudes from sentiment reaction towards fiscal policy as an instrument of recovery policy. The results show that the interrelationship between attitudes and sentiments leads to different patterns of attitudes in the two communities. Central bankers exhibit entrenched attitudes that ultimately push for a consolidation of pro-fiscal policy attitudes. On the side of economists, who are certainly more open to debate, it is restrictive attitudes that are reinforced.

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Keywords: Text-mining, economic experts, attitudes, correspondence analysys, Granger causality

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