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Optimal Taxation without State-Contingent Debt

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  • S. Rao Aiyagari
  • Albert Marcet
  • Thomas J. Sargent
  • Juha Seppala

Abstract

In an economy studied by Lucas and Stokey, tax rates inherit the serial correlation structure of government expenditures, belying Barro's earlier result that taxes should be a random walk for any stochastic process of government expenditures. To recover a version of Barro's random walk tax-smoothing outcome, we modify Lucas and Stokey's economy to permit only risk-free debt. Having only risk-free debt confronts the Ramsey planner with additional constraints on equilibrium allocations beyond one imposed by Lucas and Stokey's assumption of complete markets. The Ramsey outcome blends features of Barro's model with Lucas and Stokey's. In our model, the contemporaneous effects of exogenous government expenditures on the government deficit and taxes resemble those in Lucas and Stokey's model, but incomplete markets put a nearunit root component into government debt and taxes, an outcome like Barro's. However, we show that without ad hoc limits on the government's asset holdings, outcomes can diverge in important ways from Barro's. Our results use and extend recent advances in the consumption-smoothing literature.

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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 110 (2002)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 1220-1254

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:110:y:2002:i:6:p:1220-1254

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  1. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 1994. "Recursive contracts," Economics Working Papers 337, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 1998.
  2. Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 2001. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy Under Sticky Prices," CEPR Discussion Papers 2942, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. 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.
  4. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Lawrence J. Christiano & Jonas D. M. Fisher, 1994. "Algorithms for solving dynamic models with occasionally binding constraints," Staff Report 171, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. 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.
  7. Juan Pablo Nicolini & Francisco Buera, 2002. "Optimal Maturity of Governement Debt without state contingent bonds," Department of Economics Working Papers 016, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
  8. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
  9. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
  10. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
  11. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 1991. "Communication, commitment and growth," Economics Working Papers 1, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  12. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1995. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation with Incomplete Markets, Borrowing Constraints, and Constant Discounting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1158-75, December.
  13. Sargent, Thomas J & Velde, Francois R, 1995. "Macroeconomic Features of the French Revolution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 474-518, June.
  14. Wouter J. den Haan & Albert Marcet, 1993. "Accuracy in simulations," Economics Working Papers 42, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  15. Albert Marcet & David A. Marshall, 1994. "Solving nonlinear rational expectations models by parameterized expectations: Convergence to stationary solutions," Economics Working Papers 76, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  16. 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.
  17. Kydland, Finn E. & Prescott, Edward C., 1980. "Dynamic optimal taxation, rational expectations and optimal control," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 79-91, May.
  18. Gary Chamberlain & Charles A. Wilson, 2000. "Optimal Intertemporal Consumption Under Uncertainty," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(3), pages 365-395, July.
  19. Duffie, Darrell & Shafer, Wayne, 1985. "Equilibrium in incomplete markets: I : A basic model of generic existence," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 285-300, June.
  20. George-Marios Angeletos, 2002. "Fiscal Policy With Noncontingent Debt And The Optimal Maturity Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1105-1131, August.
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