Working Paper | 2011

Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?

by Lauren H. Cohen, Joshua D. Coval and Christopher J. Malloy

Abstract

This paper employs a new empirical approach for identifying the impact of government spending on the private sector. Our key innovation is to use changes in congressional committee chairmanship as a source of exogenous variation in state-level federal expenditures. In doing so, we show that fiscal spending shocks appear to significantly dampen corporate sector investment and employment activity. These corporate reactions follow both Senate and House committee chair changes, are present among large and small firms and within large and small states, are partially reversed when the congressman resigns, and are most pronounced among geographically-concentrated firms. The effects are economically meaningful and the mechanism - entirely distinct from the more traditional interest rate and tax channels - suggests new considerations in assessing the impact of government spending on private sector economic activity.

Keywords: Economic Growth; Investment; Spending; Government Administration; Employment; Managerial Roles;

Citation:

Cohen, Lauren H., Joshua D. Coval, and Christopher J. Malloy. "Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?" NBER Working Paper Series, No. 15839, March 2011.