Policy and welfare effects of within-period commitment
I study the implications of different institutional frameworks for the conduct of fiscal policy, under the assumption that the government cannot commit to future policy choices. The environments analyzed vary on whether the government is endowed with the ability to commit to beginning-of-period policy announcements or not. If it cannot, then there are two variants, depending on which actions private agents take before observing the government’s policy choice. How the three possible cases rank in terms of tax rates and welfare varies substantially with the economy’s fundamentals and whether depreciation is tax deductible or not. More generally, I find that regimes with higher tax rates do not necessarily imply lower welfare. I also find that making depreciation not tax-deductible typically involves a welfare loss. Within the context of the environments studied in this paper, I find that there are only small gains from modifying the way fiscal policy is conducted in modern developed economies. Furthermore, some reforms may lead to large welfare losses.
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