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Optimal Fiscal Policy without Commitment: Beyond Lucas-Stokey

Author

Listed:
  • Davide Debortoli

    (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, CREI and BGSE)

  • Pierre Yared

    (Columbia University)

  • Ricardo Nunes

    (University of Surrey)

Abstract

According to the Lucas-Stokey result, a government can structure its debt maturity to guarantee commitment to optimal fiscal policy by future governments. In this paper, we overturn this conclusion, showing that it does not generally hold in the same model and under the same definition of time-consistency as in Lucas-Stokey. Our argument rests on the existence of an overlooked commitment problem that cannot be remedied with debt maturity: a government in the future will not tax on the downward slopping side of the Laffer curve, even if it is ex-ante optimal to do so. In light of this finding, we propose a new framework to characterize time-consistent policy. We consider a Markov Perfect Competitive Equilibrium where a government reoptimizes sequentially and may deviate from the optimal commitment policy. We find that, in a deterministic economy, any stationary distribution of debt maturity must be flat, with the government owing the same amount at all future dates.

Suggested Citation

  • Davide Debortoli & Pierre Yared & Ricardo Nunes, 2019. "Optimal Fiscal Policy without Commitment: Beyond Lucas-Stokey," 2019 Meeting Papers 926, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed019:926
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Niepelt, Dirk, 2014. "Debt maturity without commitment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(S), pages 37-54.
    2. Cristina Arellano & Ananth Ramanarayanan, 2012. "Default and the Maturity Structure in Sovereign Bonds," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(2), pages 187-232.
    3. Lustig, Hanno & Sleet, Christopher & Yeltekin, Sevin, 2008. "Fiscal hedging with nominal assets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 710-727, May.
    4. Iván Werning, 2007. "Optimal Fiscal Policy with Redistribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 925-967.
    5. Faraglia, Elisa & Marcet, Albert & Scott, Andrew, 2010. "In search of a theory of debt management," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(7), pages 821-836, October.
    6. Stéphane Guibaud & Yves Nosbusch & Dimitri Vayanos, 2013. "Bond Market Clienteles, the Yield Curve, and the Optimal Maturity Structure of Government Debt," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 26(8), pages 1914-1961.
    7. Mats Persson & Torsten Persson & Lars E. O. Svensson, 2006. "Time Consistency of Fiscal and Monetary Policy: A Solution," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(1), pages 193-212, January.
    8. Buera, Francisco & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 2004. "Optimal maturity of government debt without state contingent bonds," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 531-554, April.
    9. Dan Cao & Iván Werning, 2018. "Saving and Dissaving With Hyperbolic Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(3), pages 805-857, May.
    10. Davide Debortoli & Ricardo Nunes & Pierre Yared, 2017. "Optimal Time-Consistent Government Debt Maturity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(1), pages 55-102.
    11. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
    12. Fernando Alvarez & Patrick J. Kehoe & Pablo Andrés Neumeyer, 2004. "The Time Consistency of Optimal Monetary and Fiscal Policies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(2), pages 541-567, March.
    13. Anmol Bhandari & David Evans & Mikhail Golosov & Thomas J. Sargent, 2017. "Fiscal Policy and Debt Management with Incomplete Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(2), pages 617-663.
    14. George-Marios Angeletos, 2002. "Fiscal Policy with Noncontingent Debt and the Optimal Maturity Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1105-1131.
    15. Luigi Bocola & Alessandro Dovis, 2016. "Self-Fulfilling Debt Crises: A Quantitative Analysis," NBER Working Papers 22694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Davide Debortoli & Ricardo Nunes, 2013. "Lack Of Commitment And The Level Of Debt," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(5), pages 1053-1078, October.
    17. Alessandro Dovis, 2019. "Efficient Sovereign Default," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(1), pages 282-312.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Optimal Fiscal Policy without Commitment: Beyond Lucas-Stokey
      by Christian Zimmermann in NEP-DGE blog on 2019-10-19 22:48:17

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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