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The Ricardian Approach to Budget Deficits

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  • Robert J. Barro

Abstract

Persistent budget deficits have increased economists' interest in theories and evidence about fiscal policy. This paper develops the Ricardian approach and contrasts it with standard models. The discussion considers from major theoretical objections to Ricardian equivalence - finite lifetimes, imperfect capital markets, uncertainty about future taxes and incomes, and the distorting effects of taxation. The paper then considers empirical evidence on interest rates, consumption and saving, and current-account deficits. The conclusion is that the Ricardian approach is a useful first-order approximation, and that this approach will probably become the benchmark model for assessing fiscal policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Queen's University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 728.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 1988
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:728

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  1. Weil, Philippe, 1987. "Love thy children : Reflections on the Barro debt neutrality theorem," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 377-391, May.
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  3. Evans, Paul, 1987. "Interest Rates and Expected Future Budget Deficits in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 34-58, February.
  4. Robert B. Barsky & N. Gregory Mankiw & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1987. "Ricardian Consumers With Keynesian Propensities," NBER Working Papers 1400, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Leimer, Dean R & Lesnoy, Selig D, 1982. "Social Security and Private Saving: New Time-Series Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 606-29, June.
  6. Michael R. Darby, 1977. "The Effects of Social Security on Income and the Capital Stock," UCLA Economics Working Papers 095A, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Barro, Robert J. & MacDonald, Glenn M., 1979. "Social security and consumer spending in an international cross section," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 275-289, June.
  8. Leiderman, Leonardo & Razin, Assaf, 1988. "Testing Ricardian Neutrality with an Intertemporal Stochastic Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 20(1), pages 1-21, February.
  9. Siegel, Jeremy J, 1979. "Inflation-Induced Distortions in Government and Private Saving Statistics," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(1), pages 83-90, February.
  10. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Mankiw, N Gregory & Miron, Jeffrey A, 1986. "The Changing Behavior of the Term Structure of Interest Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 211-28, May.
  12. Kochin, Levis A, 1974. "Are Future Taxes Anticipated by Consumers? Comment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 6(3), pages 385-94, August.
  13. Aschauer, David Alan & Greenwood, Jeremy, 1985. "Macroeconomic effects of fiscal policy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 91-138, January.
  14. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1987. "The optimal collection of seigniorage : Theory and evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 327-341, September.
  15. Feldstein, Martin S, 1974. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 905-26, Sept./Oct.
  16. O'Driscoll, Gerald P, Jr, 1977. "The Ricardian Nonequivalence Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 207-10, February.
  17. Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H. & Bernheim, B. Douglas, 1986. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Scholarly Articles 3721794, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  18. Seater, John J. & Mariano, Roberto S., 1985. "New tests of the life cycle and tax discounting hypotheses," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 195-215, March.
  19. McCallum, Bennett T, 1984. "Are Bond-Financed Deficits Inflationary? A Ricardian Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 123-35, February.
  20. Kormendi, Roger C, 1983. "Government Debt, Government Spending, and Private Sector Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 994-1010, December.
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  22. Chris Carroll & Lawrence H. Summers, 1987. "Why Have Private Saving Rates in the United States and Canada Diverged?," NBER Working Papers 2319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Lawrence H. Summers, 1980. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 0445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Buchanan, James M, 1976. "Barro on the Ricardian Equivalence Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(2), pages 337-42, April.
  25. Kimball, Miles S., 1987. "Making sense of two-sided altruism," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 301-326, September.
  26. Fumio Hayashi, 1985. "Tests for Liquidity Constraints: A Critical Survey," NBER Working Papers 1720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Finn Kydland & Edward C. Prescott, 1980. "A Competitive Theory of Fluctuations and the Feasibility and Desirability of Stabilization Policy," NBER Chapters, in: Rational Expectations and Economic Policy, pages 169-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Willem H. Buiter & James Tobin, 1978. "Fiscal and Monetary Policies, Capital Formation, and Economic Activity," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 512, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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