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Public Debt and Redistribution with Borrowing Constraints

  • Florin Bilbiie
  • Tommaso Monacelli
  • Roberto Perotti

The effects of public debt and redistribution are intimately related. We illustrate this in a model with heterogenous agents and imperfect credit markets. Our setup di¤ers from the classic Savers-Spenders model of ?scal policy in that all agents engage in intertemporal optimization, but a fraction of them is subject to a borrowing limit. We show that, despite the credit frictions, Ricardian equivalence holds under flexible prices if the steady-state distribution of wealth is degenerate: income effects on labor supply deriving from a tax redistribution are entirely symmetric across agents. When the distribution of wealth is non-degenerate, a tax cut is, somewhat paradoxically, contractionary. Conversely, sticky prices generate empirically plausible deviations from Ricardian equivalence, even in the case of degenerate wealth distribution. A revenue-neutral redistribution from unconstrained to constrained agents is expansionary, while debt?nanced tax cuts have effects that go beyond their redistributional component: the present-value multiplier of a tax cut is positive due to an interplay of intertemporal substitution by those who hold the public debt and income effects on those who do not.

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Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 435.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:435
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  1. Jeffrey R. Campbell & Zvi Hercowitz, 2005. "The Role of Collateralized Household Debt in Macroeconomic Stabilization," NBER Working Papers 11330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bilbiie, Florin O., 2008. "Limited asset markets participation, monetary policy and (inverted) aggregate demand logic," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 140(1), pages 162-196, May.
  3. Bilbiie, Florin O. & Meier, André & Müller, Gernot J., 2006. "What accounts for the changes in U.S. fiscal policy transmission?," Working Paper Series 0582, European Central Bank.
  4. Den Haan, Wouter, 2008. "Comparison of Solutions to the Incomplete Markets Model with Aggregate Uncertainty," CEPR Discussion Papers 7019, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Oh, Hyunseung & Reis, Ricardo, 2012. "Targeted transfers and the fiscal response to the great recession," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(S), pages S50-S64.
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  7. Karel Mertens & Morten O. Ravn, 2009. "Empirical evidence on the aggregate effects of anticipated and unanticipated US tax policy shocks," Working Paper Research 181, National Bank of Belgium.
  8. Florin Bilbiie & Roland Straub, 2006. "Asset Market Participation, Monetary Policy Rules, and the Great Inflation," IMF Working Papers 06/200, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Guido Lorenzoni & Veronica Guerrieri, 2011. "Credit Crises, Precautionary Savings and the Liquidity Trap," 2011 Meeting Papers 1414, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 763-801, June.
  11. Krusell, P & Smith Jr, A-A, 1995. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomic," RCER Working Papers 399, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  12. Tommaso Monacelli & Roberto Perotti, 2011. "Tax Cuts, Redistribution, and Borrowing Constraints," Working Papers 408, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  13. Matteo Iacoviello, 2005. "House Prices, Borrowing Constraints, and Monetary Policy in the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 739-764, June.
  14. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
  15. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1999. "The Savers-Spenders Theory of Fiscal Policy," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1888, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  16. Becker, Robert A. & Foias, Ciprian, 1987. "A characterization of Ramsey equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 173-184, February.
  17. Roberto Perotti, 2012. "The Effects of Tax Shocks on Output: Not So Large, but Not Small Either," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 214-37, May.
  18. Florin O. Bilbiie & Roland Straub, 2004. "Fiscal Policy, Business Cycles and Labor-Market Fluctuations," MNB Working Papers 2004/6, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (the central bank of Hungary).
  19. Becker, Robert A, 1980. "On the Long-Run Steady State in a Simple Dynamic Model of Equilibrium with Heterogeneous Households," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 375-82, September.
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