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Economic and Politico-Economic Equivalence of Fiscal Policies

  • Martín Gonzalez-Eiras
  • Dirk Niepelt

We extend “economic equivalence” results, like the Ricardian equivalence proposition, to the political sphere where policy is chosen sequentially. We derive conditions under which a policy regime (summarizing admissible policy choices in every period) and a state are “politico-economically equivalent” to another such pair, in the sense that both pairs give rise to the same equilibrium allocation. We apply the conditions in the context of politico-economic theories of government debt as a means to i) deliver intergenerational transfers or ii) smooth tax distortions. We find that certain politico-economic models of social security or variants thereof can be re-interpreted as novel politico-economic theories of debt while other models cannot, possibly explaining the political conflict surrounding social security reform. We also find that in environments with distorting taxes, economic equivalence relations between policies with different levels of debt do not extend to the political sphere.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3718.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3718
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  1. Javier Díaz-Giménez & Giorgia Giovannetti & Ramon Marimon & Pedro Teles, 2003. "Nominal debt as a burden on monetary policy," Economics Working Papers 841, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2006.
  2. Dirk Niepelt, 2008. "Debt Maturity without Commitment," Working Papers 08.05, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.
  3. Martín Gonzalez Eiras, 2010. "Social Security as Markov Equilibrium in OLG Models: A Note," Working Papers 105, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Sep 2010.
  4. Marco Bassetto & Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "On the Irrelevance of Government Debt When Taxes are Distortionary," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000295, David K. Levine.
  5. Ghiglino, Christian & Shell, Karl, 2000. "The Economic Effects of Restrictions on Government Budget Deficits," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 106-137, September.
  6. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  7. Brooks,Robin & Razin,Assaf (ed.), 2005. "Social Security Reform," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521844956, June.
  8. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
  9. Lorenzo Forni, 2005. "Social Security as Markov Equilibrium in OLG Models," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(1), pages 178-194, January.
  10. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680.
  11. Martin Gonzalez-Eiras & Dirk Niepelt, 2007. "The Future of Social Security," Working Papers 07.02, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.
  12. Zheng Song & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2007. "Rotten Parents and Disciplined Children: A Politico-Economic Theory of Public Expenditure and Debt," 2007 Meeting Papers 685, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Niepelt, Dirk, 2004. "Social Security Reform: Economics and Politics," Seminar Papers 732, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  14. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  15. Thomas F. Cooley & Jorge Soares, 1999. "A Positive Theory of Social Security Based on Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 135-160, February.
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