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The Ricardian Approach to Budget Deficits

  • Robert J. Barro

Persistent budget deficits have increased economists' interest in theories and evidence about fiscal policy. This paper develops the Ricardian approach and contrasts it with standard models. The discussion considers from major theoretical objections to Ricardian equivalence-finite lifetimes, imperfect capital markets, uncertainty about future taxes and incomes, and the distorting effects of taxation Then the paper considers empirical evidence on interest rates, consumption and saving, and current-account deficits. The conclusion is that the Ricardian approach is a useful first-order approximation, and that this approach will probably become the benchwork model for assessing fiscal policy.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2685.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2685.

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Date of creation: Aug 1988
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Publication status: published as Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 37-54, (Spring 1989).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2685
Note: EFG
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  9. Aschauer, David Alan & Greenwood, Jeremy, 1985. "Macroeconomic effects of fiscal policy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 91-138, January.
  10. Willem H. Buiter & James Tobin, 1978. "Fiscal and Monetary Policies, Capital Formation, and Economic Activity," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 512, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  11. Leimer, Dean R & Lesnoy, Selig D, 1982. "Social Security and Private Saving: New Time-Series Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 606-29, June.
  12. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  13. Chan, Louis Kuo Chi, 1983. "Uncertainty and the neutrality of government financing policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 351-372.
  14. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 706-32, August.
  15. Kochin, Levis A, 1974. "Are Future Taxes Anticipated by Consumers? Comment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 6(3), pages 385-94, August.
  16. Weil, Philippe, 1987. "Love thy children : Reflections on the Barro debt neutrality theorem," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 377-391, May.
  17. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S151-82, July.
  18. Fumio Hayashi, 1985. "Tests for Liquidity Constraints: A Critical Survey," NBER Working Papers 1720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Mankiw, N Gregory & Miron, Jeffrey A, 1986. "The Changing Behavior of the Term Structure of Interest Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 211-28, May.
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  22. Finn Kydland & Edward C. Prescott, 1980. "A Competitive Theory of Fluctuations and the Feasibility and Desirability of Stabilization Policy," NBER Chapters, in: Rational Expectations and Economic Policy, pages 169-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Seater, John J. & Mariano, Roberto S., 1985. "New tests of the life cycle and tax discounting hypotheses," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 195-215, March.
  24. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1987. "The optimal collection of seigniorage : Theory and evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 327-341, September.
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  28. Plosser, Charles I., 1982. "Government financing decisions and asset returns," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 325-352.
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