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Optimal Fiscal Policy over the Business Cycle

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  • Filippo Occhino

    ()
    (Rutgers University)

Abstract

How should taxes, government expenditures, the primary and fiscal surpluses and government liabilities be set over the business cycle? We assume that the government chooses expenditures and taxes to maximize the utility of a representative household, utility is increasing in government expenditures, only distortionary labor income taxes are available, and the cycle is driven by exogenous technology shocks. We first consider the commitment case, and characterize the Ramsey equilibrium. In the case that the utility function is constant elasticity of substitution between private and public consumption and separable between the composite consumption good and leisure, taxes, government expenditures and the primary surplus should all be constant positive fractions of production, and both government liabilities and the fiscal surplus should be positively correlated with production. Then, we relax the commitment assumption, and we show how to determine numerically whether the Ramsey equilibrium can be sustained by the threat to revert to a Markov perfect equilibrium. We find that, for realistic values of the preferences discount factor, the Ramsey equilibrium is sustainable.

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Paper provided by Rutgers University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 200502.

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Date of creation: 05 May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:200502

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Keywords: Fiscal Policy; Commitment; Ramsey Equilibrium; Time-consistency; Sustainable equilibrium;

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  1. Andrew Atkeson, 2010. "International lending with moral hazard and risk of repudiation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 200, David K. Levine.
  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. Chang, Roberto, 1998. "Credible Monetary Policy in an Infinite Horizon Model: Recursive Approaches," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 431-461, August.
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  6. Chari V. V. & Kehoe Patrick J., 1993. "Sustainable Plans and Debt," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 230-261, December.
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  8. Paul Klein & Per Krusell & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2004. "Time-Consistent Public Expenditures," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000652, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  10. Stokey, Nancy L., 1991. "Credible public policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 627-656, October.
  11. Kydland, Finn E. & Prescott, Edward C., 1980. "Dynamic optimal taxation, rational expectations and optimal control," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 79-91, May.
  12. Paul Klein & JosÈ-VÌctor RÌos-Rull, 2003. "Time-consistent optimal fiscal policy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1217-1245, November.
  13. V. V. Chari & Patrick J Kehoe, 1998. "Sustainable Plans," Levine's Working Paper Archive 600, David K. Levine.
  14. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  15. 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.
  16. Stokey, Nancy L, 1989. "Reputation and Time Consistency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 134-39, May.
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