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Optimal Fiscal Policy with Robust Control

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  • Justin Svec

    () (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)

Abstract

This paper compares the fiscal policies implemented by two types of government when confronted by consumer uncertainty. Consumers, lacking confidence in their knowledge of the stochastic environment, endogenously tilt their subjective probability model away from an approximating probability model. The government does not face this uncertainty. Through its choice of a labor tax and the supply of one-period public debt, the government manipulates the competitive equilibrium allocation and the consumers' probability distortion. I consider two types of altruistic government. A "benevolent" government maximizes the consumers' expected utility under the approximating probability model, whereas a "political" government maximizes the consumers' expected utility under the consumers' subjective probability model. I find that, relative to a full-confidence setup, the benevolent government relies more heavily on labor taxes to finance fluctuations in spending, while the political government depends more on public debt to absorb the fiscal shock. These policies are designed to re-align the consumers' savings decisions with their full-confidence values and to reduce the fluctuations in the consumers' welfare across states, respectively.

Suggested Citation

  • Justin Svec, 2010. "Optimal Fiscal Policy with Robust Control," Working Papers 1004, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hcx:wpaper:1004
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    File URL: http://web.holycross.edu/RePEc/hcx/HC1004Svec_OptimalFiscalPolicy.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dennis, Richard & Leitemo, Kai & Söderström, Ulf, 2009. "Methods for robust control," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1604-1616, August.
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    5. Orphanides, Athanasios & Williams, John C., 2007. "Robust monetary policy with imperfect knowledge," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(5), pages 1406-1435, July.
    6. Chahrour, Ryan & Svec, Justin, 2014. "Optimal capital taxation and consumer uncertainty," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 178-198.
    7. Chari, V V & Christiano, Lawrence J & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1994. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Business Cycle Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 617-652, August.
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    16. S. Rao Aiyagari & Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 2002. "Optimal Taxation without State-Contingent Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1220-1254, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Young, Eric R., 2012. "Robust policymaking in the face of sudden stops," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(5), pages 512-527.
    2. Richard Dennis, 2013. "Asset Prices, Business Cycles, and Markov-Perfect Fiscal Policy when Agents are Risk-Sensitive," CAMA Working Papers 2013-69, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    3. Baumann Robert & Svec Justin, 2016. "The Impact of Political Uncertainty: A Robust Control Approach," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(2), pages 837-863, April.
    4. Michael Woodford, 2010. "Robustly Optimal Monetary Policy with Near-Rational Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 274-303, March.
    5. Joshua Congdon-Hohman & Anil Nathan & Justin Svec, 2013. "Student Uncertainty and Major Choice," Working Papers 1301, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
    6. repec:eee:jpolmo:v:39:y:2017:i:2:p:206-231 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. 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.
    8. David Hudgins & Joon Na, 2016. "Entering H $$^{\infty }$$ ∞ -Optimal Control Robustness into a Macroeconomic LQ-Tracking Model," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 47(2), pages 121-155, February.
    9. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & George Economides & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2012. "Public Good Provision with Robust Decision Making," CESifo Working Paper Series 3996, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Chahrour, Ryan & Svec, Justin, 2014. "Optimal capital taxation and consumer uncertainty," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 178-198.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Robust control; uncertainty; taxes; debt; Ramsey problem;

    JEL classification:

    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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