A reconsideration of the problem of social cost: free riders and monopolists
We examine the validity of one version of the Coase Theorem: In any economy in which property rights are fully allocated, competition will lead to efficient allocations. This version of the theorem implies that the public goods problem can be solved by allocating property rights fully and letting markets do their work. We show that this mechanism is not likely to work well in economies with either pure public goods or global externalities. The reason is that the privatized economy turns out to be highly susceptible to strategic behavior in that the free-rider problem in public goods economies ...
On the desirability of fiscal constraints in a monetary union
The desirability of fiscal constraints in monetary unions depends critically on whether the monetary authority can commit to follow its policies. If it can commit, then debt constraints can only impose costs. If it cannot commit, then fiscal policy has a free-rider problem, and debt constraints may be desirable. This type of free-rider problem is new and arises only because of a time inconsistency problem.
A critique of structural VARs using real business cycle theory
The main substantive finding of the recent structural vector autoregression literature with a differenced specification of hours (DSVAR) is that technology shocks lead to a fall in hours. Researchers have used these results to argue that business cycle models in which technology shocks lead to a rise in hours should be discarded. We evaluate the DSVAR approach by asking, is the specification derived from this approach misspecified when the data are generated by the very model the literature is trying to discard? We find that it is misspecified. Moreover, this misspecification is so great that ...
New Keynesian models: not yet useful for policy analysis
In the 1970s macroeconomists often disagreed bitterly. Macroeconomists have now largely converged on method, model design, and macroeconomic policy advice. The disagreements that remain all stem from the practical implementation of the methodology. Some macroeconomists think that New Keynesian models are on the verge of being useful for quarter-to-quarter quantitative policy advice. We do not. We argue that the shocks in these models are dubiously structural and show that many of the features of the model as well as the implications due to these features are inconsistent with microeconomic ...
Sticky price models of the business cycle: can the contract multiplier solve the persistence problem?
We construct a quantitative equilibrium model with price setting and use it to ask whether with staggered price setting monetary shocks can generate business cycle fluctuations. These fluctuations include persistent output fluctuations along with the other defining features of business cycles, like volatile investment and smooth consumption. We assume that prices are exogenously sticky for a short period of time. Persistent output fluctuations require endogenous price stickiness in the sense that firms choose not to change prices very much when they can do so. We find that for a wide range of ...
Optimal Cooperative Taxation in the Global Economy
We use the Ramsey and Mirrlees approaches to study how fiscal and trade policy should be set cooperatively when governments must raise revenues with distorting taxes. Free trade and unrestricted capital mobility are optimal. Efficient outcomes can be implemented with taxes only on final consumption goods and labor income. We study alternative tax systems, showing that uniform taxation of household asset returns, and not taxing corporate income yields efficient outcomes. Border adjustments exempting exports from and including imports in the tax base are desirable. Destination and residence ...
Time consistency and policy
On the Ethics of Redistribution
Analysts of optimal policy often advocate for redistributive policies within developed economies using a behind-the-veil-of-ignorance criterion. Such analyses almost invariably ignore the effects of these policies on the well-being of people in poor countries. We argue that this approach is fundamentally misguided because it violates the criterion itself.
We propose a definition of time consistent policy for infinite horizon economies with competitive private agents. Allocations and policies are defined as functions of the history of past policies. A sustainable equilibrium is a sequence of history-contingent policies and allocations that satisfy certain sequential rationality conditions for the government and for private agents. We provide a complete characterization of the sustainable equilibrium outcomes for a variant of Fischer?s (1980) model of capital taxation. We also relate our work to recent developments in the theory of repeated ...