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Economic Growth with Constraints on Tax Revenues and Public Debt: Implications for Fiscal Policy and Cross-Country Differences

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  • Aizenman, Joshua
  • Kletzer, Kenneth

Abstract

This paper evaluates optimal public investment and fiscal policy for countries characterized by limited tax and debt capacities. We study a non stochastic CRS endogenous growth model where public expenditure is an input in the production process, in countries where distortions and limited enforceability result in limited fiscal capacities, as captured by a maximal effective tax rate. We show how persistent differences in growth rates across countries could stem from differential public finance constraints, and differentiate between the case where the public expenditure finances the flow of recurring spending (such as law enforcement), versus the stock of tangible public infrastructure. Although the flow of public expenditure raises productivity, the government should not borrow to finance it as the resulting increase in public debt would lower welfare and the growth rate. With outstanding public debt, the optimal fiscal policy should keep the debt-to-GDP ratio constant in the economy with or without a binding constraint on tax revenues as a share of GDP – current non-durable public goods should be financed only from current revenue. With investment in the stock of public infrastructure, public sector borrowing to finance the accumulation of public capital goods may allow the economy to reach a long-run optimal growth path faster. With a binding tax capacity constraint, if the ratio of the initial public/private sector stock of capital is smaller than the sustainable balanced growth ratio, the optimal policy for the government is to purchase public capital, financed by debt, to immediately attain the sustainable ratio of public capital to private capital. The sustainable steady-state ratio is endogenous to the initial public-to-private capital ratio, the tax capacity and any exogenous debt limit (say, due to sovereign risk). With capital stock adjustment costs, these statements apply to a transition of finite duration rather than an instantaneous stock jump. With either a binding exogenous debt limit or solvency constrained borrowing, a more patient country will have a higher steady-state growth rate but a lower steady-state public-to-private capital ratio.

Suggested Citation

  • Aizenman, Joshua & Kletzer, Kenneth, 2007. "Economic Growth with Constraints on Tax Revenues and Public Debt: Implications for Fiscal Policy and Cross-Country Differences," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt9421k9hq, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucscec:qt9421k9hq
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jmacro:v:53:y:2017:i:c:p:222-234 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Andrew Hughes Hallett & Drew Scott, 2010. "Scotland: A New Fiscal Settlement," CDMA Working Paper Series 201009, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
    3. Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Rother, Philipp, 2010. "The impact of high and growing government debt on economic growth: an empirical investigation for the euro area," Working Paper Series 1237, European Central Bank.
    4. Swamy, Vighneswara, 2015. "Government Debt and Economic Growth – Decomposing the Cause and Effect Relationship," MPRA Paper 64105, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Vasile George MARICA & Lucian Claudiu ANGHEL, 2015. "Sovereign Default Analysis through Extreme Events Identification," Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy Journal, College of Management, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, vol. 3(2), pages 339-353, June.
    6. Mitze, Timo & Matz, Florian, 2015. "Public debt and growth in German federal states: What can Europe learn?," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 208-228.
    7. Swamy, Vighneswara, 2015. "Government Debt and its Macroeconomic Determinants – An Empirical Investigation," MPRA Paper 64106, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Gómez-Puig, Marta & Sosvilla-Rivero, Simón, 2017. "Heterogeneity in the debt-growth nexus: Evidence from EMU countries," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 470-486.
    9. Boukhatem, Jamel & Kaabi, Malèk, 2015. "Dette publique, qualité institutionnelle et croissance économique dans les pays de la région MENA : analyse par la méthode des moments généralisés
      [Public debt, institutional quality and economic g
      ," MPRA Paper 65756, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 23 Jul 2015.
    10. Enrique R. Casares, 2015. "A relationship between external public debt and economic growth," Estudios Económicos, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos, vol. 30(2), pages 219-243.
    11. Panagodage Janaka Sampath Fernando & Hasthimuni Nadeeka De Silva & Athula Naranpanawa & Chandika Gunasinghe, 2017. "Revisiting the debt-growth nexus: Empirical evidence from Sri Lanka," Discussion Papers in Economics economics:201706, Griffith University, Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics.
    12. César Calderón & J. Rodrigo Fuentes, 2013. "Government Debt and Economic Growth," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 4641, Inter-American Development Bank.
    13. Daria Onori, 2013. "Optimal Growth under Flow-Based Collaterals," Working Papers halshs-00824672, HAL.
    14. Adom, Philip Kofi, 2016. "The DDT Effect: The case of Economic Growth, Public Debt and Democracy Relationship," MPRA Paper 75022, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 11 Nov 2016.
    15. repec:prg:jnlpep:v:preprint:id:662:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Eunji Kim & Yoonhee Ha & Sangheon Kim, 2017. "Public Debt, Corruption and Sustainable Economic Growth," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(3), pages 1-30, March.
    17. Daria Onori, 2015. "Optimal Growth and Debt Dynamics under GDP-Based Collaterals," Working Papers halshs-01251352, HAL.
    18. Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Rother, Philipp, 2012. "The impact of high government debt on economic growth and its channels: An empirical investigation for the euro area," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(7), pages 1392-1405.
    19. Swamy, Vighneswara, 2015. "The Dynamics of Government Debt and Economic Growth," MPRA Paper 63693, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Cândida Ferreira, 2014. "Debt and economic growth in the European Union: what causes what?," Working Papers Department of Economics 2014/08, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    21. Cândida Ferreira, 2016. "Debt and Economic Growth in the European Union: A Panel Granger Causality Approach," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 22(2), pages 131-149, May.
    22. Rebeca Jimenez-Rodriguez & Araceli Rodríguez-López, 2016. "What happens to the relationship between public debt and economic growth in European countries?," Economics and Business Letters, Oviedo University Press, vol. 4(4), pages 151-160.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    public investment; external debt; tax capacity; debt ceiling; growth; stock vs. flow;

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models

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