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Fiscal Rules and Countercyclical Policy

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  • Evan Tanner

Abstract

Fiscal rules—legal restrictions on government borrowing, spending, or debt accumulation (like the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act in the United States)—have recently been adopted or considered in several countries, both industrial and developing. Previous literature stresses that such laws restrict countercyclical government borrowing, thus preventing intertemporal equalization of marginal deadweight losses of taxation—an idea associated with Frank Ramsey. However, such literature typically abstracts from persistent current deficits that are financed by future tax increases. Eliminating such deficits may substantially reduce tax rate variability—the very goal of countercyclical borrowing—even over a finite horizon. Thus, Gramm-Rudman-Hollings and Frank Ramsey are not necessarily enemies and they may even be good friends!

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 03/220.

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Length: 29
Date of creation: 01 Nov 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:03/220

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Keywords: Government expenditures; Borrowing; Debt burden; Budget deficits; Tax reforms; tax rates; tax rate; fiscal rules; fiscal policy; fiscal rule; fiscal regimes; fiscal reaction; taxation; ratio of government expenditures; fiscal law; fiscal sustainability; tax increases; primary deficit; public finance; fiscal adjustments; fiscal policies; tax policy; fiscal adjustment; tax collection; fiscal responsibility; fiscal reaction function; expenditure ratio; budget constraint; fiscal regime; tax administration; budget law; fiscal policy rules; public expenditures; fiscal reforms; expenditure ratios; primary surplus ratio; fiscal variables; tax base; fiscal indiscipline; government spending; tax cut; tax ratio; fiscal responsibility law; tax rule; fiscal restriction; tax cuts; fiscal reform; sustainable fiscal policy; debt service; fiscal theory; tax increase; tax evasion;

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  1. David R. Stockman, 2004. "Default, Reputation and Balanced-Budget Rules," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(2), pages 382-405, April.
  2. Bennett T. McCallum, 1982. "Are Bond-Financed Deficits Inflationary? A Ricardian Analysis," NBER Working Papers 0905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 1995. "Balanced-budget rules, distortionary taxes, and aggregate instability," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-44, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. 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.
  5. Tamim Bayoumi & Barry Eichengreen, 1995. "Restraining Yourself: The Implications of Fiscal Rules for Economic Stabilization," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 42(1), pages 32-48, March.
  6. Ernesto Talvi & Carlos A. Vegh, 2000. "Tax Base Variability and Procyclical Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 7499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Leeper, Eric M., 1991. "Equilibria under 'active' and 'passive' monetary and fiscal policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 129-147, February.
  10. Fatas, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2001. "Government size and automatic stabilizers: international and intranational evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 3-28, October.
  11. 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.
  12. George Kopits & Steven A. Symansky, 1998. "Fiscal Policy Rules," IMF Occasional Papers 162, International Monetary Fund.
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