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Balanced-Budget Rules: Welfare Loss and Optimal Policies


  • David R. Stockman

    (University of Delaware)


Most economic models do not suggest an optimal fiscal policy in which the government's budget is balanced each period. Conventional wisdom suggests that the government run surpluses and deficits to smooth taxes. In this paper, I use an approach which brings together real business cycle theory and the theory of public finance to evaluate the effects of a balanced-budget restriction. Four fiscal policies are investigated in a model with growth. All models are solved numerically using a multidimensional collocation parameterized expectations algorithm. The welfare consequences of each policy are measured, and the optimal Ramsey policies are characterized. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:v:4:y:2001:i:2:p:438-459
    DOI: 10.1006/redy.2000.0122

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Huang, Chao-Hsi & Lin, Kenneth S., 1993. "Deficits, government expenditures, and tax smoothing in the United States: 1929-1988," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 317-339, June.
    2. Jones, Larry E & Manuelli, Rodolfo E & Rossi, Peter E, 1993. "Optimal Taxation in Models of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 485-517, June.
    3. Trehan, Bharat & Walsh, Carl E., 1990. "Seigniorage and tax smoothing in the United States 1914-1986," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 97-112, January.
    4. 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.
    5. Brown, E.C., 1991. "Balanced Budget Amendment," Working papers 595, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    6. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1987. "The optimal collection of seigniorage : Theory and evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 327-341, September.
    7. Palda, Filip, 1992. "The Determinants of Campaign Spending: The Role of the Government Jackpot," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(4), pages 627-638, October.
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    More about this item


    Ramsey equilibrium; real business cycle theory; balanced-budget rules;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy


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