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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. Richard Dennis, 2007. "Model uncertainty and monetary policy," Working Paper Series 2007-09, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2007. "Robust monetary policy with imperfect knowledge," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-33, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Richard Dennis & Kai Leitemo & Ulf Soderstrom, 2006. "Methods for Robust Control," Working Papers 307, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  4. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 1994. "Recursive contracts," Economics Working Papers 337, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 1998.
  5. Woodford, Michael, 2005. "Robustly optimal monetary policy with near-rational expectations," CFS Working Paper Series 2007/12, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  6. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 2005. "Recursive robust estimation and control without commitment," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2005,28, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  7. Dennis, Richard, 2010. "How robustness can lower the cost of discretion," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 653-667, September.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Kocherlakota, Narayana & Phelan, Christopher, 2009. "On the robustness of laissez-faire," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2372-2387, November.
  13. Chahrour, Ryan & Svec, Justin, 2014. "Optimal capital taxation and consumer uncertainty," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 178-198.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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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