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Optimal Taxation without State-Contingent Debt

  • S. Rao Aiyagari
  • Albert Marcet
  • Thomas J. Sargent
  • Juha Seppala

In an economy studied by Lucas and Stokey, tax rates inherit the serial correlation structure of government expenditures, belying Barro's earlier result that taxes should be a random walk for any stochastic process of government expenditures. To recover a version of Barro's random walk tax-smoothing outcome, we modify Lucas and Stokey's economy to permit only risk-free debt. Having only risk-free debt confronts the Ramsey planner with additional constraints on equilibrium allocations beyond one imposed by Lucas and Stokey's assumption of complete markets. The Ramsey outcome blends features of Barro's model with Lucas and Stokey's. In our model, the contemporaneous effects of exogenous government expenditures on the government deficit and taxes resemble those in Lucas and Stokey's model, but incomplete markets put a nearunit root component into government debt and taxes, an outcome like Barro's. However, we show that without ad hoc limits on the government's asset holdings, outcomes can diverge in important ways from Barro's. Our results use and extend recent advances in the consumption-smoothing literature.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 110 (2002)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 1220-1254

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:110:y:2002:i:6:p:1220-1254
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  1. Lawrence J. Christiano & Jonas D.M. Fisher, 1997. "Algorithms for Solving Dynamic Models with Occasionally Binding Constraints," NBER Technical Working Papers 0218, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 2011. "Recursive Contracts," Economics Working Papers ECO2011/15, European University Institute.
  5. 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.
  6. Albert Marcet & David A. Marshall, 1994. "Solving nonlinear rational expectations models by parameterized expectations: convergence to stationary solutions," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 91, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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  11. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1995. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation with Incomplete Markets, Borrowing Constraints, and Constant Discounting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1158-75, December.
  12. Den Haan, Wouter J & Marcet, Albert, 1994. "Accuracy in Simulations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 3-17, January.
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  14. Schmitt-Grohe, Stephanie & Uribe, Martin, 2004. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy under sticky prices," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 198-230, February.
  15. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 1991. "Communication, commitment and growth," Economics Working Papers 1, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  16. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
  17. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
  18. Sargent, Thomas J & Velde, Francois R, 1995. "Macroeconomic Features of the French Revolution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 474-518, June.
  19. Kydland, Finn E. & Prescott, Edward C., 1980. "Dynamic optimal taxation, rational expectations and optimal control," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 79-91, May.
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