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Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Uncertainty in Emerging Markets: The Tale of the Tormented Insurer

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  • Enrique G. Mendoza

    ()
    (University of Maryland)

  • P. Marcelo Oviedo

Abstract

Governments in emerging markets often behave like a "tormented insurer", trying to use non-state-contingent debt instruments to avoid sharp adjustments in their payments to private agents despite sharp fluctuations in public revenues. In the data, their ability to sustain debt is inversely related to the variability of their revenues, and their primary balances and current expenditures follow a procyclical pattern that contrasts sharply with the evidence from industrial countries. This paper proposes an equilibrium model of a small open economy with incomplete markets and aggregate uncertainty that can rationalize this behavior. In the model, a fiscal authority that chooses optimal expenditure and debt plans given stochastic revenues interacts with private agents that also make optimal consumption and asset accumulation plans. The competitive equilibrium of this economy is solved numerically as a Markov perfect equilibrium using parameter values calibrated to Mexican data. If perfect domestic risk pooling were possible, the ratio of public-to-private expenditures would be constant. With incomplete markets, however, this ratio fluctuates widely and results in welfare losses that dwarf previous estimates of the benefits of risk sharing and consumption smoothing. The model also yields a negative relationship between average public debt and revenue variability similar to the one observed in the data, and a correlation between output and government purchases that matches Mexican data

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2006 Meeting Papers with number 377.

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Date of creation: 03 Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed006:377

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Keywords: optimal debt; fiscal solvency; procyclical fiscal policy; incomplete markets;

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References

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  1. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Bennett Sutton & Luis Catão, 2002. "Sovereign Defaults," IMF Working Papers 02/149, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Pablo A. Neumeyer & Fabrizio Perri, 2004. "Business Cycles in Emerging Economies: The Role of Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 10387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
  5. S. Rao Aiyagari & Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 2002. "Optimal Taxation without State-Contingent Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1220-1254, December.
  6. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1996. "Nobel Lecture: Monetary Neutrality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 661-82, August.
  7. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen M. Reinhart & Carlos A. Vegh, 2004. "When it Rains, it Pours: Procyclical Capital Flows and Macroeconomic Policies," NBER Working Papers 10780, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Tauchen, George & Hussey, Robert, 1991. "Quadrature-Based Methods for Obtaining Approximate Solutions to Nonlinear Asset Pricing Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(2), pages 371-96, March.
  9. Oya Celasun & Xavier Debrun & Jonathan David Ostry, 2006. "Primary Surplus Behavior and Risks to Fiscal Sustainability in Emerging Market Countries," IMF Working Papers 06/67, International Monetary Fund.
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Cited by:
  1. Philipp Paulus, 2006. "The final blow to the Stability Pact? EMU enlargement and government debt," Otto-Wolff-Institut Discussion Paper Series 03/2006, Otto-Wolff-Institut für Wirtschaftsordnung, Köln, Deutschland.
  2. Fabrizio Coricelli, 2005. "Design and Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact: The Perspective of New Member States," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 0304, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
  3. International Monetary Fund, 2007. "Guarding Against Fiscal Risks in Hong Kong SAR," IMF Working Papers 07/150, International Monetary Fund.

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