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Optimal taxation without state-contingent debt

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  • Albert Marcet
  • Thomas J. Sargent
  • Juha Seppala

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:170
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Optimal taxation; incomplete markets; recursive contracts; tax smoothing; parameterized expectations;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E17 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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