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Optimal fiscal policy with robust control

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  • Svec, Justin

Abstract

This paper analyzes how consumer uncertainty affects optimal fiscal policy in the Lucas and Stokey (1983) framework. The consumers, lacking confidence in their knowledge of the stochastic environment, endogenously tilt their subjective probability model away from an approximating probability model. The government, though, is confident that the approximating probability model characterizes the stochastic environment. This confidence dichotomy reveals a range of possible objective functions for an altruistic government. I assume that the government maximizes the consumers' expected utility under the consumers' own subjective probability model. It is found that this government relies less heavily on labor taxes to absorb the fiscal shock than would be optimal if consumers were fully confident in their probability model. This policy helps mitigate the direct welfare cost associated with consumer uncertainty. I compare this policy to the one implemented by a government that maximizes the consumers' expected utility under the approximating probability model.

Suggested Citation

  • Svec, Justin, 2012. "Optimal fiscal policy with robust control," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 349-368.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:dyncon:v:36:y:2012:i:3:p:349-368
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jedc.2011.08.013
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 2007. "Recursive robust estimation and control without commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 1-27, September.
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    4. Chari, V V & Christiano, Lawrence J & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1994. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Business Cycle Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 617-652, August.
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    8. Michael Woodford, 2010. "Robustly Optimal Monetary Policy with Near-Rational Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 274-303, March.
    9. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 1994. "Recursive contracts," Economics Working Papers 337, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 1998.
    10. Chahrour, Ryan & Svec, Justin, 2014. "Optimal capital taxation and consumer uncertainty," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 178-198.
    11. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
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    13. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
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    15. 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.
    16. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J. & Turmuhambetova, Gauhar & Williams, Noah, 2006. "Robust control and model misspecification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 128(1), pages 45-90, May.
    17. Richard Dennis, 2007. "Model uncertainty and monetary policy," Working Paper Series 2007-09, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Young, Eric R., 2012. "Robust policymaking in the face of sudden stops," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(5), pages 512-527.
    2. Baumann Robert & Svec Justin, 2016. "The Impact of Political Uncertainty: A Robust Control Approach," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(2), pages 837-863, April.
    3. Michael Woodford, 2010. "Robustly Optimal Monetary Policy with Near-Rational Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 274-303, March.
    4. Luo, Yulei & Nie, Jun & Young, Eric R., 2014. "Model uncertainty and intertemporal tax smoothing," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 289-314.
    5. David Hudgins & Joon Na, 2016. "Entering H $$^{\infty }$$ ∞ -Optimal Control Robustness into a Macroeconomic LQ-Tracking Model," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 47(2), pages 121-155, February.
    6. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & George Economides & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2012. "Public Good Provision with Robust Decision Making," CESifo Working Paper Series 3996, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Chahrour, Ryan & Svec, Justin, 2014. "Optimal capital taxation and consumer uncertainty," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 178-198.
    8. Richard Dennis, 2013. "Asset Prices, Business Cycles, and Markov-Perfect Fiscal Policy when Agents are Risk-Sensitive," CAMA Working Papers 2013-69, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    9. repec:eee:jpolmo:v:39:y:2017:i:2:p:206-231 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Joshua Congdon-Hohman & Anil Nathan & Justin Svec, 2013. "Student Uncertainty and Major Choice," Working Papers 1301, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Robust control; Uncertainty; Taxes; Debt;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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