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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
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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. Kocherlakota, Narayana & Phelan, Christopher, 2009. "On the robustness of laissez-faire," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2372-2387, November.
  3. Richard Dennis, 2008. "Model Uncertainty And Monetary Policy," CAMA Working Papers 2009-04, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Richard Dennis & Kai Leitemo & Ulf Söderström, 2006. "Methods for robust control," Working Paper Series 2006-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  7. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
  8. Marcet, A. & Marimon, R., 1998. "Recursive Contracts," Economics Working Papers eco98/37, European University Institute.
  9. Michael Woodford, 2010. "Robustly Optimal Monetary Policy with Near-Rational Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 274-303, March.
  10. Dennis, Richard, 2010. "How robustness can lower the cost of discretion," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 653-667, September.
  11. 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 617-52, August.
  12. Orphanides, Athanasios & Williams, John C., 2007. "Robust monetary policy with imperfect knowledge," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(5), pages 1406-1435, July.
  13. 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.
  14. Ryan Chahrour & Justin Svec, 2014. "Optimal Capital Taxation and Consumer Uncertainty," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 854, Boston College Department of Economics.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
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