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Rules Versus Discretion In Fiscal Policy


This paper purports to apply the Kydland-Prescott framework of dynamic inconsistency to the case of fiscal policy, by considering the trade-off between output and debt stabilization. The Government budget constraint provides the link between debt dynamics and the level of activity, influenced by fiscal policy. Contrary to what happens in the monetary policy framework, however, a commitment is not always superior to discretion, even in the absence of uncertainty, but only when the public debt-GDP ratio is sufficiently large. The introduction of uncertainty, as usual, implies a reduction in the net benefit generated by the adoption of a fixed rule.

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Article provided by University of Manchester in its journal The Manchester School.

Volume (Year): 80 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 (09)
Pages: 603-629

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Handle: RePEc:bla:manchs:v:80:y:2012:i:5:p:603-629
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  1. Carlo Favero & Francesco Giavazzi, 2007. "Debt and the effects of fiscal policy," Working Papers 07-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  2. Roberto Perotti, 2004. "Estimating the effects of fiscal policy in OECD countries," Working Papers 276, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  3. Alesina, Alberto & Tabellini, Guido, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 403-14, July.
  4. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1981. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural-Rate Model," NBER Working Papers 0807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Steven J. Davis & Magnus Henrekson, 2004. "Tax Effects on Work Activity, Industry Mix and Shadow Economy Size: Evidence from Rich-Country Comparisons," NBER Working Papers 10509, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-89, November.
  7. 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.
  8. Olivier Blanchard & Roberto Perotti, 1999. "An Empirical Characterization of the Dynamic Effects of Changes in Government Spending and Taxes on Output," NBER Working Papers 7269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Kneller, Richard & Bleaney, Michael F. & Gemmell, Norman, 1999. "Fiscal policy and growth: evidence from OECD countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 171-190, November.
  10. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
  11. Fabrizio Balassone & Daniele Franco, 2000. "Public investment, the Stability Pact and the ‘golden rule’," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(2), pages 207-229, June.
  12. George Kopits & Steven A. Symansky, 1998. "Fiscal Policy Rules," IMF Occasional Papers 162, International Monetary Fund.
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