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Fiscal Rules and Countercyclical Policy; Frank Ramsey Meets Gramm-Rudman-Hollings

  • Evan Tanner

Fiscal rules—legal restrictions on government borrowing, spending, or debt accumulation (like the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act in the United States)—have recently been adopted or considered in several countries, both industrial and developing. Previous literature stresses that such laws restrict countercyclical government borrowing, thus preventing intertemporal equalization of marginal deadweight losses of taxation—an idea associated with Frank Ramsey. However, such literature typically abstracts from persistent current deficits that are financed by future tax increases. Eliminating such deficits may substantially reduce tax rate variability—the very goal of countercyclical borrowing—even over a finite horizon. Thus, Gramm-Rudman-Hollings and Frank Ramsey are not necessarily enemies and they may even be good friends!

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 03/220.

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Length: 29
Date of creation: 01 Nov 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:03/220
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Leeper, Eric M., 1991. "Equilibria under 'active' and 'passive' monetary and fiscal policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 129-147, February.
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  5. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1999. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 6891, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2001. "Good, Bad or Ugly? On the Effects of Fiscal Rules with Creative Accounting," CEPR Discussion Papers 2663, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 1999. "Government Size and Automatic Stabilizers: International and Intranational Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2259, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Bennett T. McCallum, 1982. "Are Bond-Financed Deficits Inflationary? A Ricardian Analysis," NBER Working Papers 0905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Guillermo A. Calvo, 1998. "Capital Flows and Capital-Market Crises: The Simple Economics of Sudden Stops," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 35-54, November.
  11. David R. Stockman, 2004. "Default, Reputation and Balanced-Budget Rules," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(2), pages 382-405, April.
  12. Schmitt-Grohe, Stephanie & Uribe, Martin, 1997. "Balanced-Budget Rules, Distortionary Taxes, and Aggregate Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(5), pages 976-1000, October.
  13. Tamim Bayoumi & Barry Eichengreen, 1995. "Restraining Yourself: The Implications of Fiscal Rules for Economic Stabilization," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 42(1), pages 32-48, March.
  14. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. David R. Stockman, 2001. "Balanced-Budget Rules: Welfare Loss and Optimal Policies," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(2), pages 438-459, July.
  16. Nigel Andrew Chalk & Richard Hemming, 2000. "Assessing Fiscal Sustainability in Theory and Practice," IMF Working Papers 00/81, International Monetary Fund.
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