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Optimal fiscal policy with robust control

  • Svec, Justin

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.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control.

Volume (Year): 36 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 349-368

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Handle: RePEc:eee:dyncon:v:36:y:2012:i:3:p:349-368
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jedc

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  1. Ryan Chahrour & Justin Svec, 2014. "Optimal Capital Taxation and Consumer Uncertainty," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 854, Boston College Department of Economics.
  2. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 1994. "Recursive contracts," Economics Working Papers 337, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 1998.
  3. Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 1996. "Optimal taxation without state-contingent debt," Economics Working Papers 170, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2001.
  4. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 2005. "Robust estimation and control under commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 124(2), pages 258-301, October.
  5. 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.
  6. Richard Dennis & Kai Leitemo & Ulf Soderstrom, 2006. "Methods for Robust Control," 2006 Meeting Papers 493, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Narayana Kocherlakota & Christopher Phelan, 2007. "On the Robustness of Laissez-Faire," Levine's Bibliography 843644000000000165, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. Michael Woodford, 2005. "Robustly Optimal Monetary Policy with Near Rational Expectations," NBER Working Papers 11896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Richard Dennis, 2007. "Model uncertainty and monetary policy," Working Paper Series 2007-09, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  10. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
  11. 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.
  12. Orphanides, Athanasios & Williams, John C., 2007. "Robust monetary policy with imperfect knowledge," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(5), pages 1406-1435, July.
  13. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  14. Dennis, Richard, 2010. "How robustness can lower the cost of discretion," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 653-667, September.
  15. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. " Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-70, October.
  16. Anastasios G. Karantounias with Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 2009. "Managing expectations and fiscal policy," Working Paper 2009-29, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  17. 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.
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