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Efficient Fiscal Policy and Amplification

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  • Mark Aguiar
  • Manuel Amador
  • Gita Gopinath

Abstract

We provide a rationale for the observed pro-cyclicality of tax policies in emerging markets and present a novel mechanism through which tax policy amplifies the business cycle. Our explanation relies on two features of emerging markets: limited access to financial markets and limited commitment to tax policy. We present a small open economy model with capital where a government maximizes the utility of a working population that has no access to financial markets and is subject to endowment shocks. The government's insurance motive generates pro-cyclical taxes on capital income. If the government could commit, this policy is not distortionary. However, we show that if the government lacks the ability to commit, the best fiscal policy available exacerbates the economic cycle by distorting investment during recessions. We characterize the mechanism through which limited commitment generates cycles in investment in an environment where under commitment investment would be constant. We extend our results to standard productivity shocks and to the case where the government has access to intra-period insurance markets. Lastly, we conjecture that our results would hold as well if the government could issue debt subject to borrowing constraints.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11490.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11490

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  1. Alberto Alesina & Filipe R. Campante & Guido Tabellini, 2008. "Why is Fiscal Policy Often Procyclical?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(5), pages 1006-1036, 09.
  2. V.V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimal fiscal policy in a business cycle model," Staff Report 160, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Reinhart, Carmen & Kaminsky, Graciela & Vegh, Carlos, 2004. "When it rains, it pours: Procyclical capital flows and macroeconomic policies," MPRA Paper 13883, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Ernesto Talvi & Carlos A. Vegh, 2000. "Tax Base Variability and Procyclical Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 7499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Guillermo A. Calvo, 2003. "Explaining Sudden Stops, Growth Collapse and BOP Crises: The Case of Distortionary Output Taxes," NBER Working Papers 9864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1998. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy," Staff Report 251, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Mark Aguiar & Gita Gopinath, 2004. "Emerging Market Business Cycles: The Cycle is the Trend," NBER Working Papers 10734, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Patrick J. Kehoe & Fabrizio Perri, 2002. "International Business Cycles with Endogenous Incomplete Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 907-928, May.
  9. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2004. "Fiscal Policy and Financial Depth," NBER Working Papers 10532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Michael Gavin & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Policy in Latin America," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 11-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
  12. Zhu, Xiaodong, 1992. "Optimal fiscal policy in a stochastic growth model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 250-289, December.
  13. Benhabib, Jess & Rustichini, Aldo, 1997. "Optimal Taxes without Commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 231-259, December.
  14. Andrew Atkeson & V.V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1999. "Taxing capital income: a bad idea," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 3-17.
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Cited by:
  1. Areendam Chanda & Debajyoti Chakrabarty & Chetan Ghate, . "Education, Growth, and Redistribution in the Presence of Capital Flight," Departmental Working Papers 2006-10, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  2. Zsolt Darvas & Andrew K. Rose & György Szapáry, 2005. "Fiscal Divergence and Business Cycle Synchronization: Irresponsibility is Idiosyncratic," NBER Working Papers 11580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Enrique G. Mendoza & P. Marcelo Oviedo, 2006. "Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Uncertainty in Developing Countries: The Tale of the Tormented Insurer," NBER Working Papers 12586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Subrata Ghatak & José R. Sánchez-Fung, 2006. "Is Fiscal Policy Sustainable in Developing Economies?," Discussion Papers 384, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  5. Gregory Thwaites, 2006. "Optimal emerging market fiscal policy when trend output growth is unobserved," Bank of England working papers 308, Bank of England.
  6. Darvas, Zsolt & Szapáry, György & Rose, Andrew K., 2005. "A fiskális divergencia és a konjunktúraciklusok együttmozgása - a felelőtlen fiskális politika az aszimmetrikus sokkok forrása
    [Fiscal divergence and business cycle synchronization: irrespo
    ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(12), pages 937-959.

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