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Distortionary taxation, debt, and the price level

  • Schabert, Andreas
  • von Thadden, Leopold

This paper considers the nominal and real determinacy of equilibria under an exogenously specified path of interest rates in an economy in which taxation is either lump-sum or distortionary. Under lump-sum taxation, we confirm the well-known finding that equilibria display nominal (in)determinacy if the primary surplus is exogenous (endogenous). Under distortionary taxation, this classification is no longer relevant. Nominal determinacy is always ensured since distortionary taxes establish a link between the allocation and the sequences of taxes and debt and, hence, the price level, regardless of whether the primary surplus is exogenous or endogenous. Distortionary taxation, however, increases the scope for real indeterminacy. As a general feature, the real (in)determinacy of equilibria depends on the interaction of fiscal and monetary policies, i.e. on the sequences of taxes, debt, and interest rates. If, for example, fiscal policy runs a balanced budget the central bank should set the nominal interest rate in a way consistent with long-run deflation in order to ensure real determinacy. This finding is different from a balanced-budget policy under lump-sum taxes where no such qualification with respect to the interest rate needs to be made. JEL Classification: E31, E63

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0577.

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Date of creation: Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20060577
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  1. Jean-Pascal Benassy, 2005. "Interest Rate Rules, Price Determinacy and the Value of Money in a non Ricardian World," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(3), pages 651-667, July.
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  9. Bassetto, Marco & Kocherlakota, Narayana, 2004. "On the irrelevance of government debt when taxes are distortionary," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 299-304, March.
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  11. Charles T. Carlstrom & Timothy S. Fuerst, 2001. "Timing and real indeterminacy in monetary models," Working Paper 9910R, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  12. Eric M. Leeper & Tack Yun, 2005. "Monetary-Fiscal Policy Interactions and the Price Level: Background and Beyond," NBER Working Papers 11646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Woodford, Michael, 1994. "Monetary Policy and Price Level Determinacy in a Cash-in-Advance Economy," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 345-80.
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