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Catching up with the Keynesians

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  • Ljungqvist, Lars

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Uhlig, Harald

    ()
    (CentER for Economic Research)

Abstract

This paper examines the role for tax policies in productivity-shock driven economies with "catching-up-with -the-Joneses" utility functions. The optimal tax policy is shown to affect the economy counter-cyclically via procyclical taxes, i.e., "cooling down" the economy with higher taxes when it is "overheating" in booms and "stimulating" the economy with lower taxes in recessions to keep consumption up. Thus, models with catching-up-with-the-Joneses utility functions call for traditional Keynesian demand management policies. Parameter values from Campbell and Cochrane (1995) are also used to illustrate that the necessary labor taxes can be very high, in the order of 50 percent. However, Campbell and Cochrane's nonlinear version of the benchmark level in the catching-up-with-the-Joneses preferences has the implication that consumption bunching can be welfare enhancing.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance with number 259.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 28 Sep 1998
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming in American Economic Review.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0259

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Keywords: Catching-up-with-the-Joneses preferences; fiscal policy; taxation;

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References

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  1. Boldrin, M. & Christiano, L.J. & Fisher, J.D.M., 1995. "Asset Pricing Lessons for Modeling Business Cycles," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics 9513, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  2. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1994. "By force of habit: a consumption-based explanation of aggregate stock market behavior," Working Papers 94-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  3. Andrew B. Abel, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching up with the Joneses," NBER Working Papers 3279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gali, Jordi, 1994. "Keeping Up with the Joneses: Consumption Externalities, Portfolio Choice, and Asset Prices," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(1), pages 1-8, February.
  5. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1989. "Building Blocks of Market Clearing Business Cycle Models," NBER Working Papers 3004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Andrew B. Abel, 1998. "Risk Premia and Term Premia in General Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 6683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. G. Constantinides, 1990. "Habit formation: a resolution of the equity premium puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1397, David K. Levine.
  8. Persson, Mats, 1995. " Why Are Taxes So High in Egalitarian Societies?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 569-80, December.
  9. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  10. Boskin, Michael J & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1978. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation when Individual Welfare Depends upon Relative Income," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 589-601, November.
  11. Lettau, M. & Uhlig, H., 1995. "Can Habit Formation be Reconciled with Business Cycle Facts?," Discussion Paper, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research 1995-54, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  12. Hansen, Gary D., 1985. "Indivisible labor and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-327, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Lawrence J. Christiano & Michele Boldrin & Jonas D. M. Fisher, 2001. "Habit Persistence, Asset Returns, and the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 149-166, March.

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