Economic Definition of automatic stabilizer. Defined.
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Term automatic stabilizer Definition: A feature of the federal government's budget that tends to reduce the ups and downs of the business cycle without the need for any special legislative action, that is stabilization policies. The two key automatic stabilizers are income taxes and transfer payments. When our economy drops into a recession, unemployment rises, aggregate output declines, and people have less income. But with less income, they pay fewer income taxes, and thus there's less of a drain on consumption than their might have been. Likewise, many who are unemployed get transfer payments in the form of unemployment compensation, welfare, or Social Security. This lets them consume more than they would have otherwise. During an expansion, both of these go in the other direction. As a result, a recession sees more spending and fewer taxes, while an expansion has less spending and more taxes, all occurring quite automatically.