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Tax Smoothing in Frictional Labor Markets

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  • David M. Arseneau
  • Sanjay K. Chugh

Abstract

The optimality of tax smoothing is reexamined using frictional labor markets. In a calibrated matching model that generates empirically relevant labor market fluctuations conditional on exogenous fiscal policy, the Ramsey-optimal policy calls for extreme labor tax rate volatility. Purposeful tax volatility induces dramatically smaller, but efficient, fluctuations of labor markets by keeping distortions constant over the business cycle. We relate the results to standard Ramsey theory by developing welfare-relevant concepts of efficiency and distortions based on primitive matching frictions. Although the basic Ramsey principles of "wedge smoothing" and zero intertemporal distortions hold, tax smoothing depends on whether wages are set efficiently.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 120 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 926 - 985

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/668837

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  1. Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 1996. "Optimal taxation without state-contingent debt," Economics Working Papers 170, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2001.
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  4. Arseneau, David M. & Chugh, Sanjay K., 2008. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy with costly wage bargaining," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1401-1414, November.
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  8. David M. Arseneau & Sanjay K. Chugh, 2006. "Ramsey meets Hosios: the optimal capital tax and labor market efficiency," International Finance Discussion Papers 870, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Andolfatto, David, 1996. "Business Cycles and Labor-Market Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 112-32, March.
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