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Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Model with Uninsurable Idiosyncratic Shocks

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Listed:
  • Sebastian Dyrda
  • Marcelo Pedroni

Abstract

This paper studies optimal taxation in an environment where heterogeneous households face uninsurable idiosyncratic risk. To do this, we formulate a Ramsey problem in a standard infinite horizon incomplete markets model. We solve numerically for the optimal path of proportional capital and labor income taxes, (possibly negative) lump-sum transfers, and government debt. The solution maximizes welfare along the transition between an initial steady state, calibrated to replicate key features of the US economy, and an endogenously determined final steady state. We find that in the optimal (utilitarian) policy: (i) capital income taxes are front-loaded hitting the imposed upper bound of 100 percent for 33 years before decreasing to 45 percent in the long-run; (ii) labor income taxes are reduced to less than half of their initial level, from 28 percent to about 13 percent in the long-run; and (iii) the government accumulates assets over time reducing the debt-to-output ratio from 63 percent to -17 percent in the long-run. Relative to keeping fiscal instruments at their initial levels, this leads to an average welfare gain equivalent to a permanent 4.9 percent increase in consumption. Even though non-distortive lump-sum taxes are available, the optimal plan has positive capital and labor taxes. Such taxes reduce the proportions of uncertain and unequal labor and capital incomes in total income, increasing welfare by providing insurance and redistribution. We quantify these welfare effects. We also show that calculating the entire transition path (as opposed to considering steady states only) is quantitatively important. Implementing the policy that maximizes welfare in steady state leads to a welfare loss of 6.4 percent once transitory effects are accounted for.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Dyrda & Marcelo Pedroni, 2015. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Model with Uninsurable Idiosyncratic Shocks," Working Papers tecipa-550, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-550
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edward Nathan Wolff, 2011. "Recent Trends in Household Wealth, 1983-2009: The Irresistible Rise of Household Debt," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 2(1).
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    4. Juan Carlos Conesa & Sagiri Kitao & Dirk Krueger, 2009. "Taxing Capital? Not a Bad Idea after All!," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 25-48, March.
    5. Markus Poschke & Baris Kaymak & Ozan Bakis, 2012. "On the Optimality of Progressive Income Redistribution," 2012 Meeting Papers 837, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Catarina Reis & Vasia Panousi, 2012. "Optimal Capital Taxation with Idiosyncratic Investment Risk," 2012 Meeting Papers 732, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Acikgoz, Omer, 2013. "Transitional Dynamics and Long-run Optimal Taxation Under Incomplete Markets," MPRA Paper 50160, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-622, May.
    9. Röhrs, Sigrid & Winter, Christoph, 2017. "Reducing government debt in the presence of inequality," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 1-20.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Röhrs, Sigrid & Winter, Christoph, 2017. "Reducing government debt in the presence of inequality," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 1-20.
    2. Krueger, Dirk & Ludwig, Alexander, 2018. "Optimal taxes on capital in the OLG model with uninsurable idiosyncratic income risk," ZEW Discussion Papers 18-014, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    3. Krueger, Dirk & Ludwig, Alexander, 2018. "Optimal taxes on capital in the OLG model with uninsurable idiosyncratic income risk," SAFE Working Paper Series 201, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.
    4. Tobon Orozco, David & Molina Guerra, Carlos & Vargas Cano, John Harvey, 2016. "Extent of Expected Pigouvian Taxes and Permits for Environmental Services in a General Equilibrium Model with a natural capital constraint," BORRADORES DEPARTAMENTO DE ECONOMÍA 015258, UNIVERSIDAD DE ANTIOQUIA - CIE.
    5. repec:eee:dyncon:v:83:y:2017:i:c:p:162-174 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Chen, Yunmin & Chien, YiLi & Yang, C.C., 2017. "Implementing the Modified Golden Rule? Optimal Ramsey Capital Taxation with Incomplete Markets Revisited," Working Papers 2017-3, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 05 Oct 2017.
    7. repec:red:issued:16-217 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. William B. Peterman & Erick Sager, 2018. "Optimal Public Debt with Life Cycle Motives," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2018-028, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    9. Xavier Ragot & Francois Le Grand, 2017. "Optimal Fiscal Policy with Heterogeneous Agents and Aggregate Shocks," 2017 Meeting Papers 969, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. Carroll, Daniel R. & Dolmas, James & Young, Eric R., 2015. "Majority Voting: A Quantitative Investigation," Working Paper 1442, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    11. Galo Nuño & Carlos Thomas, 2016. "Optimal monetary policy with heterogeneous agents," Working Papers 1624, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    12. Stephie Fried & Kevin Novan & William Peterman, 2018. "The Distributional Effects of a Carbon Tax on Current and Future Generations," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 30, pages 30-46, October.
    13. Chien, YiLi & Wen, Yi, 2017. "Optimal Ramsey Capital Income Taxation —A Reappraisal," Working Papers 2017-24, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 23 Oct 2017.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Optimal Taxation; Heterogenous Agents; Incomplete markets;

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • D52 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Incomplete Markets

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