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The Optimal Design of a Fiscal Union

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  • Jonathan Hoddenbagh
  • Mikhail Dmitriev

Abstract

We study cooperative and non-cooperative fiscal policy in an open economy model where cross-country risk sharing is imperfect and countries face terms of trade externalities. We show that the optimal form of fiscal cooperation, or fiscal union, is defined by one parameter: the Armington elasticity of substitution between goods from different countries. We prove that members of a fiscal union should: (1) harmonize steady state income tax rates when the Armington elasticity is low in order to ameliorate terms of trade externalities; and (2) send fiscal transfers across countries when the Armington elasticity is high in order to improve risk sharing. Our analytical predictions hold both outside of and within currency unions. For standard calibrations, we find that the welfare gain from the optimal fiscal union is as high as 5% of permanent consumption when countries are able to trade safe government bonds, and can approach 20% when countries lose access to international financial markets. We also find that labor mobility significantly improves welfare and alleviates the need for a transfer union entirely.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Hoddenbagh & Mikhail Dmitriev, 2013. "The Optimal Design of a Fiscal Union," 2013 Papers pho497, Job Market Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:jmp:jm2013:pho497
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bianca De Paoli, 2009. "Monetary Policy under Alternative Asset Market Structures: The Case of a Small Open Economy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(7), pages 1301-1330, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dmitriev, Mikhail & Hoddenbagh, Jonathan, 2012. "Price Stability In Small Open Economies," MPRA Paper 46118, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Feb 2013.
    2. Stephane Moyen & Nikolai Stähler & Fabian Winkler, 2016. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance and International Risk Sharing," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2016-054, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Equiza-Goni, Juan & Faraglia, Elisa & Oikonomou, Rigas, 2016. "Union Debt Management," CEPR Discussion Papers 11181, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Fabio Ghironi, 2018. "Macro needs micro," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(1-2), pages 195-218.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E50 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - General
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission

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