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Fiscal Policy with Limited-Time Commitment


  • Alex Clymo

    (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

  • Andrea Lanteri

    (Duke University, United States)


We consider models where the Ramsey-optimal fiscal policy under Full Commitment (FC) is time-inconsistent and define a new notion of optimal policy, Limited-Time Commitment (LTC). Successive one-period lived governments can commit to future plans over a finite horizon. We provide a sufficient condition on the mapping from finite policy sequences to allocations, such that LTC and FC lead to the same outcomes. We then show that this condition is verified in several existing models, allowing FC Ramsey plans to be supported with a finite commitment horizon (often a single period). We relate the required degree of commitment to the economic environment: in economies without capital, the minimum degree of commitment required is given by the government debt maturity; in economies with capital and government balanced-budget constraints, the required commitment is given by the horizon over which the budget has to be balanced. Finally, we solve numerically for the LTC equilibrium of an economy where the equivalence result fails and show that a single year of commitment to capital taxes provides substantial welfare gains relative to the No-Commitment time-consistent policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Clymo & Andrea Lanteri, 2016. "Fiscal Policy with Limited-Time Commitment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 16-056/VI, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20160056

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marina Halac & Pierre Yared, 2014. "Fiscal Rules and Discretion Under Persistent Shocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82, pages 1557-1614, September.
    2. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Sustainable Plans and Mutual Default," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 175-195.
    3. Christopher Phelan & Ennio Stacchetti, 2001. "Sequential Equilibria in a Ramsey Tax Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1491-1518, November.
    4. Chari, V V & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1990. "Sustainable Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 783-802, August.
    5. 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.
    6. Faraglia, Elisa & Marcet, Albert & Oikonomou, Rigas & Scott, Andrew, 2014. "Government Debt Management: The Long and the Short of It," CEPR Discussion Papers 10281, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Roberds, William, 1987. "Models of Policy under Stochastic Replanning," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(3), pages 731-755, October.
    8. Chang, Roberto, 1998. "Credible Monetary Policy in an Infinite Horizon Model: Recursive Approaches," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 431-461, August.
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    More about this item


    Optimal fiscal policy; time-inconsistency; limited commitment;

    JEL classification:

    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • 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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