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Is U.S. Fiscal Policy Optimal?

Author

Listed:
  • Nicola Giammarioli
  • Luisa Lambertini

    () (Chair of International Finance, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland)

  • Luca Onorante

Abstract

We find and compare two simple fiscal rules. The first is a theoretical rule that approximates well Ramsey-optimal fiscal policy in a DSGE model calibrated to the U.S. economy over the period 1955:1 to 2007:3. The second is an empirical rule that approximates well actual U.S. fiscal policy over the same period. Our main findings are: First, Ramsey-optimal fiscal policy displays limited volatility even in the presence of sticky prices, while public debt absorbs most of the shocks. Second, actual U.S. fiscal policy is excessively counter-cyclical. Ramsey-optimal fiscal policy is negatively correlated with output over the business cycle, as expansions generate reduction in the level of public debt and the tax rate and vice versa. On the other hand, actual fiscal policy is positively correlated with output, with tax rate being raised during expansions and reduced during recessions. Third, actual fiscal policy is inconsistent with long-run debt sustainability over the period considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicola Giammarioli & Luisa Lambertini & Luca Onorante, 2008. "Is U.S. Fiscal Policy Optimal?," Working Papers 200802, Center for Fiscal Policy, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne.
  • Handle: RePEc:cif:wpaper:200802
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    File URL: http://infoscience.epfl.ch/record/109473/files/CFP2008_01.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Claeys, 2007. "Estimating the effects of fiscal policy under the budget constraint," IREA Working Papers 200715, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Jul 2007.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal policy;

    JEL classification:

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

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