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Efficient Fiscal Policy and Amplification

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  • Mark Aguiar
  • Manuel Amador
  • Gita Gopinath

Abstract

We provide a rationale for the observed pro-cyclicality of tax policies in emerging markets and present a novel mechanism through which tax policy amplifies the business cycle. Our explanation relies on two features of emerging markets: limited access to financial markets and limited commitment to tax policy. We present a small open economy model with capital where a government maximizes the utility of a working population that has no access to financial markets and is subject to endowment shocks. The government's insurance motive generates pro-cyclical taxes on capital income. If the government could commit, this policy is not distortionary. However, we show that if the government lacks the ability to commit, the best fiscal policy available exacerbates the economic cycle by distorting investment during recessions. We characterize the mechanism through which limited commitment generates cycles in investment in an environment where under commitment investment would be constant. We extend our results to standard productivity shocks and to the case where the government has access to intra-period insurance markets. Lastly, we conjecture that our results would hold as well if the government could issue debt subject to borrowing constraints.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Aguiar & Manuel Amador & Gita Gopinath, 2005. "Efficient Fiscal Policy and Amplification," NBER Working Papers 11490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11490 Note: IFM PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alberto Alesina & Filipe R. Campante & Guido Tabellini, 2008. "Why is Fiscal Policy Often Procyclical?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(5), pages 1006-1036, September.
    2. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen M. Reinhart & Carlos A. Végh, 2005. "When It Rains, It Pours: Procyclical Capital Flows and Macroeconomic Policies," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 11-82 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Chari, V.V. & Kehoe, Patrick J., 1999. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1671-1745 Elsevier.
    4. Benhabib, Jess & Rustichini, Aldo, 1997. "Optimal Taxes without Commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 231-259, December.
    5. 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 617-652, August.
    6. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 59-83.
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    8. Mark Aguiar & Gita Gopinath, 2007. "Emerging Market Business Cycles: The Cycle Is the Trend," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 69-102.
    9. Andrew Atkeson & V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1999. "Taxing capital income: a bad idea," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 3-17.
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    11. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2004. "Fiscal Policy and Financial Depth," NBER Working Papers 10532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1, January.
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    14. Michael Gavin & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Policy in Latin America," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 11-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Guillermo A. Calvo, 2003. "Explaining Sudden Stops, Growth Collapse and BOP Crises: The Case of Distortionary Output Taxes," NBER Working Papers 9864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Chari, V.V. & Kehoe, Patrick J., 1999. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1671-1745 Elsevier.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Chakrabarty Debajyoti & Chanda Areendam & Ghate Chetan, 2006. "Education, Growth, and Redistribution in the Presence of Capital Flight," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(2), pages 1-41, November.
    2. Enrique G. Mendoza & P. Marcelo Oviedo, 2006. "Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Uncertainty in Developing Countries: The Tale of the Tormented Insurer," NBER Working Papers 12586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Zsolt Darvas & Andrew K. Rose & Gyorgy Szapary, 2005. "Fiscal Divergence and Business Cycle Synchronization: Irresponsibility is Idiosyncratic," NBER Chapters,in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2005, pages 261-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Subrata Ghatak & José R. Sánchez-Fung, 2007. "Is Fiscal Policy Sustainable in Developing Economies?," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 518-530, August.
    5. Darvas, Zsolt & Szapáry, György & Rose, Andrew K., 2005. "A fiskális divergencia és a konjunktúraciklusok együttmozgása - a felelőtlen fiskális politika az aszimmetrikus sokkok forrása
      [Fiscal divergence and business cycle synchronization: irresponsibilit
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(12), pages 937-959.
    6. Gregory Thwaites, 2006. "Optimal emerging market fiscal policy when trend output growth is unobserved," Bank of England working papers 308, Bank of England.
    7. Enrique G. Mendoza & P. Marcelo Oviedo, 2006. "Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Uncertainty in Emerging Markets: The Tale of the Tormented Insurer," 2006 Meeting Papers 377, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance
    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook

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