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Hyperbolic discounting, public debt and balanced budget rules

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  • Huber, Bernd
  • Runkel, Marco

Abstract

This paper considers a government that chooses its tax and borrowing policy in order to minimize the present value of the excess burden caused by taxation. In doing so, the government uses hyperbolic discounting. It turns out that public deficits are positive even if public expenditures are constant over time. With cyclical expenditures, the government chooses an asymmetric debt policy, i.e., in bad times it borrows more than it repays in good times. In contrast to tax smoothing and political economy theories of public debt, the welfare effects of a balanced budget rule are ambiguous.

Suggested Citation

  • Huber, Bernd & Runkel, Marco, 2008. "Hyperbolic discounting, public debt and balanced budget rules," Munich Reprints in Economics 19391, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:19391
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    1. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 37-49, March.
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    13. David I. Laibson, 1996. "Hyperbolic Discount Functions, Undersaving, and Savings Policy," NBER Working Papers 5635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:bla:kyklos:v:70:y:2017:i:1:p:42-69 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Bernd Hayo & Florian Neumeier, 2016. "Political Leaders' Socioeconomic Background and Public Budget Deficits: Evidence from OECD Countries," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(1), pages 55-78, March.
    3. Bernd Hayo & Florian Neumeier, 2017. "Public Attitudes toward Fiscal Consolidation: Evidence from a Representative German Population Survey," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(1), pages 42-69, February.
    4. Bernd Hayo & Florian Neumeier, 2014. "Public Preferences for Government Spending Priorities: Survey Evidence from Germany," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201457, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    5. Hayo, Bernd & Neumeier, Florian, 2014. "Political leaders' socioeconomic background and fiscal performance in Germany," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 184-205.
    6. Hayo, Bernd & Neumeier, Florian, 2017. "The (In)validity of the Ricardian equivalence theorem–findings from a representative German population survey," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 162-174.
    7. Bernd Hayo & Florian Neumeier, 2016. "The debt brake in the eyes of the German population," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 139-159, January.

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