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Optimal public investment with and without government commitment

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  • Marina Azzimonti-Renzo
  • Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte
  • Jorge Soares

Abstract

We analyze the problem of optimal public investment when government purchases of productive capital assets are financed through income taxes. Virtually all previous work in this literature has prescribed a share of public investment in GDP that is both constant and time consistent. This paper shows that this straightforward prescription derives from specific assumptions relating to preferences and technology. In a more general framework, the optimal policy is neither constant nor time consistent. With full commitment, a policymaker will typically choose a tax rate, or alternatively a share of public investment, that increases over time. He does not exploit the first-period non-distortionary tax on capital but instead delays taxation in order to generate a "take-off" phase with higher consumption and higher private investment. When optimal policy is constrained to be time consistent, long-run tax rates surprisingly emerge to be lower than under the Ramsey plan. Therefore, the inability to commit to future policy implies too little public investment in the long run. Finally, in contrast to previous work, we find that the efficient share of public investment in GDP depends importantly on the intertemporal elasticity of substitution, capital depreciation rates, and the growth rates of productivity and population.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 03-10.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:03-10

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Keywords: Fiscal policy;

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References

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  1. Paul Klein & Per Krusell & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2004. "Time-Consistent Public Expenditures," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000652, UCLA Department of Economics.
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  8. Stephen Turnovsky, 1998. "Productive Government Expenditure in a Stochastically Growing Economy," Working Papers 0056, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  9. Chari, V V & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1990. "Sustainable Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 783-802, August.
  10. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B., 1994. "Public investment in infrastructure in a simple growth model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 1173-1187, November.
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  16. Beck, Thorsten & Clarke, George & Groff, Alberto & Keefer, Philip & Walsh, Patrick, 2000. "New tools and new tests in comparative political economy - the database of political institutions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2283, The World Bank.
  17. repec:cup:macdyn:v:3:y:1999:i:4:p:544-70 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  19. Turnovsky, Stephen J., 1997. "Fiscal Policy In A Growing Economy With Public Capital," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(03), pages 615-639, September.
  20. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Azzimonti, Marina & Sarte, Pierre-Daniel & Soares, Jorge, 2009. "Distortionary taxes and public investment when government promises are not enforceable," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1662-1681, September.
  2. Paul Klein & Per Krusell & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2004. "Time-Consistent Public Expenditures," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000652, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Tarhan, Simge, 2008. "Public Investment and Corruption in an Endogenous Growth Model," MPRA Paper 21319, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 11 Mar 2010.

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