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Jel Classification:E62 

Working Paper
The Value of Constraints on Discretionary Government Policy
This paper investigates how institutional constraints discipline the behavior of discretionary governments subject to an expenditure bias. The focus is on constraints implemented in actual economies: monetary policy targets, limits on the deficit and debt ceilings. For a variety of aggregate shocks considered, the best policy is to impose a minimum primary surplus of about half a percent of output. Most welfare gains from constraining government behavior during normal times, which to a large extent is sufficient to discipline policy in adverse times. Monetary policy targets are not generally desirable as they hinder the ability of governments to smooth distortions. Allowing for the effective use of inflation during transitions is a key component of good institutional design. Debt ceilings are benign, but always dominated by deficit constraints. More pre-commitment to government actions is ineffective in curbing inefficiently high public expenditure.
AUTHORS: Martin, Fernando M.
DATE: 2016-02-27

Working Paper
Liquidity Premiums on Government Debt and the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level
We construct a dynamic general equilibrium model where agents use nominal government bonds as collateral in secured lending arrangements. If the collateral constraint binds, agents price in a liquidity premium on bonds that lowers the real rate on bonds. In equilibrium, the price level is determined according to the fiscal theory of the price level. However, the market value of government debt exceeds its fundamental value. We then examine the dynamic properties of the model and show that the market value of the government debt can fluctuate even though there are no changes to current or future taxes or spending. The price dynamics are driven solely by the liquidity premium on the debt.
AUTHORS: Berentsen, Aleksander; Waller, Christopher J.
DATE: 2017-03-29

Working Paper
Vocational Considerations and Trends in Social Security Disability
Along with health, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) evaluates work-limiting disability by considering vocational factors including age, education, and past work experience. As the number of SSDI applicants and awards has increased, these vocational criteria are increasingly important to acceptances and denials. A unique state-level dataset allows us to estimate how these factors relate to the SSDI award process. These estimates are used to asses how changes to the demographic and occupational composition have contributed to awards trends. In our results, the prevalence of workers in their 50s are especially important. Further, increasing educational attainment lowers applications and vocational awards.
AUTHORS: Michaud, Amanda M.; Nelson, Jaeger; Wiczer, David
DATE: 2016-10-16

Working Paper
Debt and Stabilization Policy: Evidence from a Euro Area FAVAR
The Euro-area poses a unique problem in evaluating policy: a currency union with a shared monetary policy and country-specific fiscal policy. Analysis can be further complicated if high levels of public debt affect the performance of stabilization policy. We construct a framework capable of handling these issues with an application to Euro-Area data. In order to incorporate multiple macroeconomic series from each country but, simultaneously, treat country-specific fiscal policy, we develop a hierarchical factor-augmented VAR with zero restrictions on the loadings that yield country-level factors. Monetary policy, then, responds to area-wide conditions but fiscal policy responds only to its country level conditions. We find that there is broad quantitative variation in different countries'' responses to area-wide monetary policy and both qualitative and quantitative variation in responses to country-specific fiscal policy. Moreover, we find that debt conditions do not diminish the effectiveness of policy in a significant manner, suggesting that any negative effects must come through other channels.
AUTHORS: Jackson, Laura E.; Owyang, Michael T.; Zubairy, Sarah
DATE: 2017-07-27

Working Paper
Intergenerational policy and the measurement of tax incidence
We evaluate the ability of generational accounting to assess the potential welfare implications of policy reforms. In an intergenerational context policy reforms usually have redistributive, efficiency, and general equilibrium implications. Our analysis shows that when the policy reform implies changes in economic efficiency, generational accounts can be misleading not only about the magnitude of welfare changes, but also about the identity of who wins and who losses. In contrast the generational accounts correctly identify welfare changes when the policy reform has only a pure intergenerational redistribution component. We illustrate and quantify this issue in the context of widely considered policy reforms (substitution of consumption for labor taxation, and the increase of retirement age) and in a more general context of optimal policy.
AUTHORS: Conesa, Juan Carlos; Garriga, Carlos
DATE: 2013

Working Paper
Optimal Fiscal Policy in Overlapping Generations Models
In this paper, we explore the proposition that the optimal capital income tax is zero using an overlapping generations model. We prove that for a large class of preferences, the optimal capital income tax along the transition path and in steady state is non-zero. For a version of the model calibrated to the US economy, we find that the model could justify the observed rates of capital income taxation for an empirically reasonable intertemporal utility function and a robust demographic structure.
AUTHORS: Garriga, Carlos
DATE: 2017-05-22

Working Paper
The Aggregate and Relative Economic Effects of Government Financed Health Care
Government-financed health care (GFHC) expenditures, through Medicare and Medicaid, have grown from roughly zero to over 7.6 percent of national personal income over the past 50 years. Recently, some analysts (e.g., the Council of Economics Advisers (2014)) have argued that an expansion of GFHC (in particular Medicaid) has large positive employment effects. Using quarterly data for 1978:Q2-2016:Q4, this paper estimates the impact of GFHC spending on prime-age employment using an instrumental variables strategy that exploits exogenous variation in Medicare spending. Our IV estimate of the multiplier suggests that an increase in GFHC spending equal to 1 percent of income over a two year horizon causes the employment-population ratio to increase by 58 basis points. This implies a job-creation cost of $84,900 per job year. Medicare spending changes by themselves yield a similar estimate of the employment multiplier (0.65). We then explore the dynamic employment response accumulated up to a four-year horizon and estimate a job-creation cost in the range of $406,000 to $467,000 per job-year. In other words, we find that an exogenous GFHC expansion has a moderate positive employment response in the short run and a muted cumulative response in the long run. We also show that the so-called relative (or local) multiplier approach based on the state-level panel provides similar estimates to those based on aggregate data. Although the employment effects using aggregate data are estimated imprecisely, they are considerably sharper when estimated using state-level data.
AUTHORS: Dupor, William D.; Rodrigo , Guerrero
DATE: 2017-10-16

Working Paper
Macroeconomic Effects of Government Spending in China
Government spending plays an important role in determining economic performances in China. Its macroeconomic effects are analyzed in this paper. We show that government spending in China (i) Granger-causes output, consumption and investment booms as well as inflation and (ii) has a multiplier larger than 1. The large multiplier effects are found not only in aggregate time-series data but also in panel data at the provincial level. We also provide a theoretical model and Monte Carlo analysis to rationalize our empirical findings. Our theoretical and Monte Carlo analyses support the large multiplier found in China but also suggests that government spending is not necessarily a free lunch in spite of the large multiplier effects.
AUTHORS: Wang, Xin; Wen, Yi
DATE: 2013

Working Paper
Optimal Ramsey Capital Income Taxation —A Reappraisal
This paper addresses a long-standing problem in the optimal Ramsey capital taxation literature. The tractability of our model enables us to solve the Ramsey problem analytically along the entire transitional path. We show that the conventional wisdom on Ramsey tax policy and its underlying intuition and rationales do not hold in our model and may thus be misrepresented in the literature. We uncover a critical trade off for the Ramsey planner between aggregate allocative efficiency in terms of the modified golden rule and individual allocative efficiency in terms of self-insurance. Facing the trade-off, the Ramsey planner prefers issuing debt rather than taxing capital if possible. In particular, the planner always intends to supply enough bonds to relax individuals'' borrowing constraints to achieve the modified golden rule by crowding out capital. A capital tax is not the optimal tool to achieve aggregate allocative efficiency, despite possible over-accumulation of capital. Thus, the optimal capital tax can be zero, positive, or even negative, depending on the Ramsey planner's ability to issue debt. The modified golden rule can fail to hold whenever the government encounters a debt limit. Finally, the planner's desire to relax individuals'' borrowing constraints may lead to unlimited debt accumulation, resulting in a dynamic path featuring no steady state.
AUTHORS: Chien, YiLi; Wen, Yi
DATE: 2017-08-18

Working Paper
Local and Aggregate Fiscal Policy Multipliers
In this paper, we estimate the effect of defense spending on the U.S. macroeconomy since World War II. First, we construct a new panel dataset of state-level federal defense contracts. Second, we sum observations across states and, using the resulting time series, estimate the aggregate effect of defense spending on national income and employment via instrumental variables. Third, we estimate local multipliers using the state-level data, which measures the relative effect on economic activity due to relative differences in defense spending across states. Comparing the aggregate and local multiplier estimates, we find that the two deliver similar results, providing a case in which local multiplier estimates may be reliable indicators of the aggregate effects of fiscal policy. We also estimate spillovers using interstate commodity flow data and find some evidence of small positive spillovers, which explain part of the (small) difference between the estimated local and aggregate multipliers. Across a wide range of specifications, we estimate income and employment multipliers between zero and 0.5. We reconcile this result with the greater-than-one multipliers found in Nakamura and Steinsson (2014) by analyzing the impact of the Korean War episode in the estimation.
AUTHORS: Dupor, William D.; Rodrigo , Guerrero
DATE: 2016-03-29


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