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Optimal Tax and Debt Policy with Endogenously Imperfect Creditworthiness

  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Michael Gavin
  • Ricardo Hausmann

This paper shows that the patterns of optimal tax rates and borrowing in the presence of endogenous borrowing constraints differ considerably from the patterns observed with fully integrated capital markets. We study a developing country characterized by a costly tax collection. Its access to the international credit market is determined by the efficiency of the tax system and the relative bargaining power of creditors. Partial defaults induce a `burden shifting' from bad to good states of nature, reducing the cost of borrowing, implying that a switch from no default to a partial default regime is associated with a borrowing boom. The switch to a partial default regime is associated with financial fragility, where small adverse changes in fundamentals lead to a large accumulation of debt. The tax rate exhibits strong counter-cyclical patterns in economies operating at the credit ceiling, whereas the tax rate exhibits strong pro-cyclical patterns in economies operating on the upward sloping portion of the supply of credit, where the risk premium is positive, and very little cyclical patterns in economies operating on the elastic portion of the supply of credit. We identify a volatility- debt curve for a given realization of output. With low debt, higher volatility tends to reduce borrowing. When volatility reaches a threshold, we observe a switch from a no default to a partial default regime, where a further rise in volatility increases borrowing and reduces present taxes.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5558.

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Date of creation: May 1996
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Publication status: published as Joshua Aizenman, Michael Gavin, Ricardo Hausmann. "Optimal tax and debt policy with endogenously imperfect creditworthiness," Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 9(4), pages 367-395, December 2000.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5558
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  1. Robert J. Barro, 1986. "The Behavior of United States Deficits," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 361-394 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Robert J. Barro, 1986. "Government Spending, Interest Rates, Prices, and Budget Deficits in the United Kingdom, 1701-1918," NBER Working Papers 2005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  5. V.V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimal fiscal policy in a business cycle model," Staff Report 160, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Calvo, Guillermo A. & Kaminsky, Graciela L., 1991. "Debt relief and debt rescheduling : The optimal-contract approach," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 5-36, July.
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  8. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Robert J. Barro, 1995. "Optimal Debt Management," NBER Working Papers 5327, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, June.
  11. Michael Gavin & Ricardo Hausmann & Roberto Perotti & Ernesto Talvi, 1996. "Managing Fiscal Policy in Latin America and the Caribbean: Volatility, Procyclicality, and Limited Creditworthiness," Research Department Publications 4032, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  12. Jeremy I. Bulow & Kenneth Rogoff, 1987. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," NBER Working Papers 2088, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. Calvo, Guillermo A & Guidotti, Pablo E, 1993. "On the Flexibility of Monetary Policy: The Case of the Optimal Inflation Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 667-87, July.
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