IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Is U.S. Fiscal Policy Optimal?


  • Nicola Giammarioli
  • Luisa Lambertini

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

  • Luca Onorante


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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    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


    fiscal policy;

    JEL classification:

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


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cif:wpaper:200802. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Corinne Dubois). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.