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Tax Smoothing with Stochastic Interest Rates: A Re-assessment of Clinton's Fiscal Legacy

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Abstract

The return to sound fiscal policy after the high budget deficits of the 1980s and early 1990s has been hailed by many as the Clinton administration's most important achievement. In this article, we evaluate post-war, US fiscal policy using an extension of Barro's (1979) tax-smoothing model, generalized to allow for stochastic variation in interest rates and growth rates. We show that the evolution of the US debt-GDP ratio has been remarkably consistent with the tax-smoothing paradigm, even during the 1980s. The only major departure occurred during the late 1990s, when the debt-GDP ratio fell more rapidly than predicted by optimal tax smoothing. Le retour vers une politique fiscale raisonnable après les déficits budgétaires élevés des années 1980 et du début des années 1990 a été acclamé par beaucoup comme la réalisation la plus importante de l'administration Clinton. Dans cet article, nous évaluons la politique fiscale des États-Unis d'après-guerre en utilisant une extension du modèle de lissage des impôts de Barro (1979), modèle généralisé pour permettre des variations stochastiques des taux d'intérêt et des taux de croissance. Nous montrons que l'évolution de ratio dette/PIB américain a été remarquablement conséquent avec le paradigme de lissage des impôts, même durant les années 1980. Le seul écart important a eu lieu durant la fin des années 1990, lorsque le ratio dette/PIB est tombé plus rapidement que ce qu'aurait prédit un lissage optimal des impôts.

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  • Huw Lloyd-Ellis & Shiqiang Zhang & Xiaodong Zhu, 2001. "Tax Smoothing with Stochastic Interest Rates: A Re-assessment of Clinton's Fiscal Legacy," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 125, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  • Handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:125
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    1. Jagannathan, Ravi & Wang, Zhenyu, 1996. " The Conditional CAPM and the Cross-Section of Expected Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(1), pages 3-53, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Luo, Yulei & Nie, Jun & Young, Eric R., 2014. "Model uncertainty and intertemporal tax smoothing," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 289-314.
    2. Angyridis, Constantine, 2009. "Balanced budget vs. Tax smoothing in a small open economy: A welfare comparison," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 438-463, September.
    3. Evan C Tanner, 2013. "Fiscal Sustainability; A 21st Century Guide for the Perplexed," IMF Working Papers 13/89, International Monetary Fund.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    public debt; tax smoothing; stochastic discouting;

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt

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