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Optimal Fiscal Policy with Robust Control

  • Justin Svec

    ()

    (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)

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.

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File URL: http://college.holycross.edu/RePEc/hcx/Svec_OptimalFiscalPolicy.pdf
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Paper provided by College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1004.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hcx:wpaper:1004
Contact details of provider: Phone: (508)793-3362
Fax: (508) 793-3708
Web page: http://www.holycross.edu/departments/economics/website/

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  1. V.V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimal fiscal policy in a business cycle model," Staff Report 160, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 1996. "Optimal taxation without state-contingent debt," Economics Working Papers 170, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2001.
  3. Richard Dennis & Kai Leitemo & Ulf Soderstrom, 2006. "Methods for Robust Control," Working Papers 307, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  4. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
  5. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2007. "Robust monetary policy with imperfect knowledge," Working Paper Series 2007-08, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  6. Richard Dennis, 2008. "Model Uncertainty and Monetary Policy," NCER Working Paper Series 30, National Centre for Econometric Research.
  7. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 2011. "Recursive Contracts," Economics Working Papers ECO2011/15, European University Institute.
  8. Anastasios G. Karantounias with Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 2009. "Managing expectations and fiscal policy," Working Paper 2009-29, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  9. Woodford, Michael, 2005. "Robustly optimal monetary policy with near-rational expectations," CFS Working Paper Series 2007/12, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  10. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. " Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-70, October.
  11. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 2005. "Recursive robust estimation and control without commitment," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2005,28, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  12. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 2005. "Robust estimation and control under commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 124(2), pages 258-301, October.
  13. Justin Svec, 2011. "Optimal Capital Taxation and Consumer Uncertainty," Working Papers 1108, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  14. Kocherlakota, Narayana & Phelan, Christopher, 2009. "On the robustness of laissez-faire," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2372-2387, November.
  15. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  16. Dennis, Richard, 2010. "How robustness can lower the cost of discretion," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 653-667, September.
  17. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J. & Turmuhambetova, Gauhar & Williams, Noah, 2006. "Robust control and model misspecification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 128(1), pages 45-90, May.
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