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Optimal Taxation with Private Government Information

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  • Christopher Sleet
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    Abstract

    The Ramsey model of fiscal policy implies that taxes should be smooth in the sense of having small variances. In contrast, empirical labour tax processes are smooth in the sense of being random walks; they provide prima facie evidence for incomplete government insurance. This paper considers whether private government information might lie behind such incomplete insurance. It shows that optimal incentive compatible policies exhibit limited use of state contingent debt and greater persistence in taxes and debt, and it argues that they are better approximations to empirical fiscal policies than those implied by the Ramsey model. The paper also establishes that optimal incentive compatible allocations converge to allocations such that the government's incentive compatibility constraint no longer binds. Generally, these limiting allocations are ones in which the government is maximally indebted. Their credibility and the interaction of incentive compatibility and credibility is briefly discussed. Copyright The Review of Economic Studies Limited, 2004.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Review of Economic Studies.

    Volume (Year): 71 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 4 (October)
    Pages: 1217-1239

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:restud:v:71:y:2004:i:4:p:1217-1239

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    1. Fernandes, Ana & Phelan, Christopher, 2000. "A Recursive Formulation for Repeated Agency with History Dependence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 223-247, April.
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    4. Missale, Alessandro, 1999. "Public Debt Management," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290858.
    5. Albert Marcet & Andrew Scott, 2007. "Debt and Deficit Fluctuations and the Structure of Bond Markets," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 728.08, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    6. Huang, Chao-Hsi & Lin, Kenneth S., 1993. "Deficits, government expenditures, and tax smoothing in the United States: 1929-1988," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 317-339, June.
    7. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
    8. V.V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1989. "Sustainable plans and mutual default," Staff Report 124, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    9. S. Rao Aiyagari & Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 2002. "Optimal Taxation without State-Contingent Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1220-1254, December.
    10. George Kopits & J. D. Craig, 1998. "Transparency in Government Operations," IMF Occasional Papers 158, International Monetary Fund.
    11. Blejer, Mario I & Cheasty, Adrienne, 1991. "The Measurement of Fiscal Deficits: Analytical and Methodological Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1644-78, December.
    12. Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1986. "A Theory of Ambiguity, Credibility, and Inflation under Discretion and Asymmetric Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1099-1128, September.
    13. Kingston, Geoffrey H., 1984. "Efficient timing of income taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 271-280, July.
    14. Thomas, Jonathan & Worrall, Tim, 1990. "Income fluctuation and asymmetric information: An example of a repeated principal-agent problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 367-390, August.
    15. Bohn, Henning, 1988. "Why do we have nominal government debt?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 127-140, January.
    16. Canzoneri, Matthew B, 1985. "Monetary Policy Games and the Role of Private Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1056-70, December.
    17. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    18. Bohn, Henning, 1990. "Tax Smoothing with Financial Instruments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1217-30, December.
    19. Francisco Buera & Juan Pablo Nicolini, 2000. "Optimal Maturity of Government Debt with Incomplete Markets," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1769, Econometric Society.
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    Cited by:
    1. Turdaliev, Nurlan, 2010. "Communication in repeated monetary policy games," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 228-243, April.
    2. Marcet, Albert & Scott, Andrew, 2001. "Debt and Deficit Fluctuations and the Structure of Bond Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 3029, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Hall, George J. & Sargent, Thomas J., 2014. "Fiscal discriminations in three wars," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 148-166.
    4. Joan Esteban & Facundo Albornoz & Paolo Vanin, 2009. "Government Information Transparency," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 774.09, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC), revised 10 Feb 2010.
    5. Angyridis, Constantine, 2009. "Balanced budget vs. Tax smoothing in a small open economy: A welfare comparison," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 438-463, September.
    6. Alessandro Dovis, 2013. "Efficient Sovereign Default," 2013 Meeting Papers 293, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Halac, Marina & Yared, Pierre, 2013. "Fiscal Rules and Discretion under Persistent Shocks," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1014, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    8. Antje Berndt & Hanno Lustig & Sevin Yeltekin, 2010. "How Does the U.S. Government Finance Fiscal Shocks?," NBER Working Papers 16458, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Sofia Bauducco & Francesco Caprioli, 2011. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Small Open Economy with Limited Commitment," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 644, Central Bank of Chile.
    10. Marina Halac & Pierre Yared, 2012. "Fiscal Rules and Discretion under Persistent Shocks," NBER Working Papers 18545, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Elizabeth Brainerd & Nidhiya Menon, 2013. "Religion and Health in Early Childhood: Evidence from the Indian Subcontinent," Working Papers 65, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.

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