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Optimal taxation without state-contingent debt

  • Albert Marcet
  • Thomas J. Sargent
  • Juha Seppala

To recover a version of Barro's (1979) `random walk' tax smoothing outcome, we modify Lucas and Stokey's (1983) economy to permit only risk--free debt. This imparts near unit root like behavior to government debt, independently of the government expenditure process, a realistic outcome in the spirit of Barro's. We show how the risk--free--debt--only economy confronts the Ramsey planner with additional constraints on equilibrium allocations that take the form of a sequence of measurability conditions. We solve the Ramsey problem by formulating it in terms of a Lagrangian, and applying a Parameterized Expectations Algorithm to the associated first--order conditions. The first--order conditions and numerical impulse response functions partially affirm Barro's random walk outcome. Though the behaviors of tax rates, government surpluses, and government debts differ, allocations are very close for computed Ramsey policies across incomplete and complete markets economies.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 170.

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Date of creation: Apr 1996
Date of revision: Oct 2001
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:170
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Sargent, Thomas J & Velde, Francois R, 1995. "Macroeconomic Features of the French Revolution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 474-518, June.
  2. Martin Uribe & Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe, 2001. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy under sticky prices," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Jun.
  3. Albert Marcet & Ramon Marimon, 2011. "Recursive Contracts," Economics Working Papers ECO2011/15, European University Institute.
  4. Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 1996. "Optimal taxation without state-contingent debt," Economics Working Papers 170, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2001.
  5. Albert Marcet & David A. Marshall, 1994. "Solving nonlinear rational expectations models by parameterized expectations: convergence to stationary solutions," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 94-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  6. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Marcet, Albert & Scott, Andrew, 2001. "Debt and Deficit Fluctuations and the Structure of Bond Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 3029, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  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. Kydland, Finn E. & Prescott, Edward C., 1980. "Dynamic optimal taxation, rational expectations and optimal control," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 79-91, May.
  10. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
  11. Wouter J. den Haan & Albert Marcet, 1993. "Accuracy in simulations," Economics Working Papers 42, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  12. Duffie, Darrell & Shafer, Wayne, 1985. "Equilibrium in incomplete markets: I : A basic model of generic existence," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 285-300, June.
  13. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1995. "Optimal Capital Income Taxation with Incomplete Markets, Borrowing Constraints, and Constant Discounting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1158-75, December.
  14. Lawrence J. Christiano & Jonas D.M. Fisher, 1994. "Algorithms for solving dynamic models with occasionally binding constraints," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 94-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  15. George-Marios Angeletos, 2002. "Fiscal Policy With Noncontingent Debt And The Optimal Maturity Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1105-1131, August.
  16. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  17. Gary Chamberlain & Charles A. Wilson, 2000. "Optimal Intertemporal Consumption Under Uncertainty," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(3), pages 365-395, July.
  18. Marcet, Albert & Marimon, Ramon, 1992. "Communication, commitment, and growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 219-249, December.
  19. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
  20. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
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