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Optimal fiscal policy with robust control

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  • Svec, Justin

Abstract

This paper analyzes how consumer uncertainty affects optimal fiscal policy in the Lucas and Stokey (1983) framework. The consumers, lacking confidence in their knowledge of the stochastic environment, endogenously tilt their subjective probability model away from an approximating probability model. The government, though, is confident that the approximating probability model characterizes the stochastic environment. This confidence dichotomy reveals a range of possible objective functions for an altruistic government. I assume that the government maximizes the consumers' expected utility under the consumers' own subjective probability model. It is found that this government relies less heavily on labor taxes to absorb the fiscal shock than would be optimal if consumers were fully confident in their probability model. This policy helps mitigate the direct welfare cost associated with consumer uncertainty. I compare this policy to the one implemented by a government that maximizes the consumers' expected utility under the approximating probability model.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control.

Volume (Year): 36 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 349-368

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Handle: RePEc:eee:dyncon:v:36:y:2012:i:3:p:349-368

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jedc

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Keywords: Robust control; Uncertainty; Taxes; Debt;

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References

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  1. Orphanides, Athanasios & Williams, John C., 2007. "Robust monetary policy with imperfect knowledge," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(5), pages 1406-1435, July.
  2. Richard Dennis & Kai Leitemo & Ulf Soderstrom, 2006. "Methods for Robust Control," 2006 Meeting Papers 493, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Anastasios G. Karantounias with Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 2009. "Managing expectations and fiscal policy," Working Paper 2009-29, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  4. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
  5. Woodford, Michael, 2005. "Robustly optimal monetary policy with near-rational expectations," CFS Working Paper Series 2007/12, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  6. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 2005. "Robust estimation and control under commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 124(2), pages 258-301, October.
  7. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 2011. "Recursive Contracts," Economics Working Papers ECO2011/15, European University Institute.
  8. Justin Svec, 2011. "Optimal Capital Taxation and Consumer Uncertainty," Working Papers 1108, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  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. Richard Dennis, 2007. "Model uncertainty and monetary policy," Working Paper Series 2007-09, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  11. Dennis, Richard, 2010. "How robustness can lower the cost of discretion," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 653-667, September.
  12. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. " Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-70, October.
  13. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
  14. Kocherlakota, Narayana & Phelan, Christopher, 2009. "On the robustness of laissez-faire," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2372-2387, November.
  15. V. V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Business Cycle Model," NBER Working Papers 4490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J. & Turmuhambetova, Gauhar & Williams, Noah, 2006. "Robust control and model misspecification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 128(1), pages 45-90, May.
  17. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 2007. "Recursive robust estimation and control without commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 1-27, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael Woodford, 2005. "Robustly Optimal Monetary Policy with Near Rational Expectations," NBER Working Papers 11896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Richard Dennis, 2013. "Asset Prices, Business Cycles, and Markov-Perfect Fiscal Policy when Agents are Risk-Sensitive," Working Papers 2013_15, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  3. Yulei Luo & Jun Nie & Eric R. Young, 2012. "Model uncertainty and intertemporal tax smoothing," Research Working Paper RWP 12-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  4. Ryan Chahrour & Justin Svec, 2014. "Optimal Capital Taxation and Consumer Uncertainty," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 854, Boston College Department of Economics.
  5. Joshua Congdon-Hohman & Anil Nathan & Justin Svec, 2013. "Student Uncertainty and Major Choice," Working Papers 1301, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  6. Robert Baumann & Justin Svec, 2013. "The Impact of Political Uncertainty: A Robust Control Approach," Working Papers 1306, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  7. Young, Eric R., 2012. "Robust policymaking in the face of sudden stops," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(5), pages 512-527.
  8. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & George Economides & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2012. "Public Good Provision with Robust Decision Making," CESifo Working Paper Series 3996, CESifo Group Munich.

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