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Economic and Politico-Economic Equivalence of Fiscal Policies

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  • Martín Gonzalez-Eiras
  • Dirk Niepelt

Abstract

We extend “economic equivalence” results, like the Ricardian equivalence proposition, to the political sphere where policy is chosen sequentially. We derive conditions under which a policy regime (summarizing admissible policy choices in every period) and a state are “politico-economically equivalent” to another such pair, in the sense that both pairs give rise to the same equilibrium allocation. We apply the conditions in the context of politico-economic theories of government debt as a means to i) deliver intergenerational transfers or ii) smooth tax distortions. We find that certain politico-economic models of social security or variants thereof can be re-interpreted as novel politico-economic theories of debt while other models cannot, possibly explaining the political conflict surrounding social security reform. We also find that in environments with distorting taxes, economic equivalence relations between policies with different levels of debt do not extend to the political sphere.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3718.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3718

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Keywords: equivalence; social security; government debt; social security reform;

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References

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  1. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680.
  2. Fernando A. Broner & Alberto Martín & Jaume Ventura, 2006. "Sovereign Risk and Secondary Markets," Working Papers 288, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  3. Dirk Niepelt, 2008. "Debt Maturity without Commitment," Working Papers 08.05, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.
  4. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  5. Gonzalez-Eiras, Martin & Niepelt, Dirk, 2007. "The Future of Social Security," CEPR Discussion Papers 6245, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Lorenzo Forni, 2005. "Social Security as Markov Equilibrium in OLG Models," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(1), pages 178-194, January.
  7. Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Giorgia Giovannetti & Ramon Marimon & Pedro Teles, 2007. "Nominal Debt as a Burden on Monetary Policy," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/53, European University Institute.
  8. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
  9. Zheng Song, 2009. "Rotten Parents and Disciplined Children: A Politico-Economic Theory of Public Expenditure and Debt," 2009 Meeting Papers 94, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Martin Gonzalez-Eiras, 2011. "Social security as Markov equilibrium in OLG models: a note," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(3), pages 549-552, July.
  11. Thomas F. Cooley & Jorge Soares, 1999. "A Positive Theory of Social Security Based on Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 135-160, February.
  12. Ghiglino, Christian & Shell, Karl, 2000. "The Economic Effects of Restrictions on Government Budget Deficits," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 106-137, September.
  13. Dirk Niepelt, 2009. "Sovereign Debt Maturity without Commitment," 2009 Meeting Papers 231, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  14. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  15. Bassetto, Marco & Kocherlakota, Narayana, 2004. "On the irrelevance of government debt when taxes are distortionary," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 299-304, March.
  16. Niepelt, Dirk, 2004. "Social Security Reform: Economics and Politics," Seminar Papers 732, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
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Cited by:
  1. Martín Gonzalez-Eiras & Dirk Niepelt, 2011. "Ageing, Government Budgets, Retirement, and Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 3352, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Martín Gonzales-Eiras & Dirk Niepelt, 2007. "Population Ageing, Government Budgets, and Productivity Growth in Politico-Economic Equilibrium," Working Papers 07.05, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.

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