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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
  4. 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.
  5. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 1994. "Recursive contracts," Economics Working Papers 337, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 1998.
  6. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2007. "Robust monetary policy with imperfect knowledge," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-33, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. 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.
  8. Michael Woodford, 2005. "Robustly Optimal Monetary Policy with Near Rational Expectations," NBER Working Papers 11896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Richard Dennis, 2007. "Model uncertainty and monetary policy," Working Paper Series 2007-09, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  11. Narayana Kocherlakota & Christopher Phelan, 2007. "On the Robustness of Laissez-Faire," Levine's Bibliography 843644000000000165, UCLA Department of Economics.
  12. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
  13. Dennis, Richard, 2010. "How robustness can lower the cost of discretion," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 653-667, September.
  14. Chahrour, Ryan & Svec, Justin, 2014. "Optimal capital taxation and consumer uncertainty," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 178-198.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Anastasios G. Karantounias with Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent, 2009. "Managing expectations and fiscal policy," FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. 2009-29, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
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