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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. 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.
  2. Lawrence J. Christiano & Jonas D.M. Fisher, 1997. "Algorithms for Solving Dynamic Models with Occasionally Binding Constraints," NBER Technical Working Papers 0218, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Wouter J. den Haan & Albert Marcet, 1993. "Accuracy in simulations," Economics Working Papers 42, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  4. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 2011. "Recursive Contracts," CEP Discussion Papers dp1055, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  5. 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.
  6. Albert Marcet & David A. Marshall, 1994. "Solving nonlinear rational expectations models by parameterized expectations: convergence to stationary solutions," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 91, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Buera, Francisco & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 2004. "Optimal maturity of government debt without state contingent bonds," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 531-554, April.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 2001. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy Under Sticky Prices," CEPR Discussion Papers 2942, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Marcet, Albert & Marimon, Ramon, 1992. "Communication, commitment, and growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 219-249, December.
  15. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Optimal capital income taxation with incomplete markets, borrowing constraints, and constant discounting," Working Papers 508, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  16. 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.
  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. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
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