Debt Reduction and Automatic Stabilization
47 Pages Posted: 31 May 2003
Date Written: October 2002
This paper presents an optimal fiscal policy response to address the basic trade-off between the automatic stabilisation properties of budgets and the long run fiscal positions. The framework is an overlapping generations model a la Weil (1989), extended to account for stochastic endowments and borrowing constrained households. A benign government chooses over the optimal degree of responsiveness of net taxes to individual incomes, an optimal measure of long-run public debt, or both, in order to smooth households' consumption across states of nature. In the presence of a deficit constraint for the government, the results unambiguously point to the desire for lower debt levels than those currently prevailing in order to enable a more effective hedging of personal income uncertainty by means of more active fiscal stabilisers. Citizens in economies exhibiting more pronounced cycles will favour less automatic stabilisation combined with a more aggressive policy of debt reduction.
Keywords: Public debt, automatic stabilisation, borrowing constraints, consumption
JEL Classification: H31, H63, E63
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