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Time Consistent Public Expenditures

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  • Klein, Paul
  • Krusell, Per
  • Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor

Abstract

How should aggregate public expenditures be traded off against their financing costs? We incorporate public expenditures into a standard neoclassical growth setup with model policy choice as made by a government choosing tax rates and spending so that the resulting competitive equilibrium allocation maximizes consumer welfare. An additional key restriction that the government faces in our model is that it cannot commit to future policy. This restriction binds: current income taxes influence past savings decisions as well as past work decisions, and these effects are ignored by governments without access to commitment. We solve for equilibria where ‘reputational’ mechanisms are not operative: we characterize Markov-perfect equilibria of the dynamic game between successive governments. We characterize equilibria in terms of an intertemporal first-order condition (a ‘generalized Euler equation’, GEE) for the government and we use this condition both to gain insight into the nature of the equilibrium and as a basis for computation. The GEE reveals how the government optimally trades off tax wedges over time. For a calibrated economy, we find that when the tax base available to the government is capital income – an inelastic source of funds at any moment in time – the government still refrains from taxing at confiscatory rates. As a result, the economy is far from the mix of public and private goods that would be optimal in a static context; in return, steady-state savings are less distorted.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4582.

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Date of creation: Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4582

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Keywords: Markov-perfect equilibrium; optimal taxation; time-consistency;

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References

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  1. Per Krusell & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 1997. "On the size of U.S. government: political economy in the neoclassical growth model," Staff Report 234, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Marco Bassetto & Thomas J Sargent, 2006. "Politics and Efficiency of Separating Capital and Ordinary Government Budgets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1167-1210, November.
  3. Javier Díaz-Giménez & Giorgia Giovanetti & Ramon Marimon & Pedro Teles, 2003. "Nominal Debt as a Burden on Monetary Policy," Working Papers 8, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  4. Per Krusell & Burhanettin Kuruscu & Anthony A. Smtih, Jr., . "Equilibrium Welfare and Government Policy with Quasi-Geometric Discounting," GSIA Working Papers 2001-06, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  5. John Hassler & Per Krusell & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2007. "On the Optimal Timing of Capital Taxes," IEW - Working Papers 343, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  6. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., . "Consumption-Savings Decisions with Quasi-Geometric Discounting," GSIA Working Papers 2001-05, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  7. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  8. Per Krusell & Fernando M. Martin & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2006. "Time Consistent Debt," 2006 Meeting Papers 210, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Hassler, John & Mora, Jose & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2002. "The Survival of the Welfare State," Seminar Papers 704, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  10. David R. Stockman, 2001. "Balanced-Budget Rules: Welfare Loss and Optimal Policies," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(2), pages 438-459, July.
  11. Paul Klein & JosÈ-VÌctor RÌos-Rull, 2003. "Time-consistent optimal fiscal policy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1217-1245, November.
  12. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-89, November.
  13. Chari, V V & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1990. "Sustainable Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 783-802, August.
  14. Krusell, Per & Quadrini, Vincenzo & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1997. "Politico-economic equilibrium and economic growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 243-272, January.
  15. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  16. 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.
  17. Cohen, Daniel & Michel, Philippe, 1988. "How Should Control Theory Be Used to Calculate a Time-Consistent Government Policy?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 263-74, April.
  18. Marina Azzimonti-Renzo & Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte & Jorge Soares, 2003. "Optimal public investment with and without government commitment," Working Paper 03-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
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