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Jel Classification:H21 

Working Paper
Optimal taxation and debt with uninsurable risks to human capital accumulation

We consider an economy where individuals face uninsurable risks to their human capital accumulation and study the problem of determining the optimal level of linear taxes on capital and labor income together with the optimal path of the debt level. We show both analytically and numerically that in the presence of such risks it is beneficial to tax both labor and capital income and to have positive government debt.
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2014-24

Working Paper
Time-Inconsistent Optimal Quantity of Debt

A key feature of the infinite-horizon heterogeneous-agents incomplete-markets (Inf-HAIM) framework is that the equilibrium interest rate of public debt lies below the time discount rate (regardless of capital). This happens because of a positive liquidity premium on asset returns due to imperfect risk sharing. This fundamental property of standard Inf-HAIM models, however, implies that the Ramsey planner's fiscal policy may be time-inconsistent---because the planner has a dominate incentive to issue plenty of debt such that all households are fully self-insured against idiosyncratic risk ...
Working Papers , Paper 2020-037

Working Paper
Flexible Retirement and Optimal Taxation

This paper studies optimal insurance against private idiosyncratic shocks in a life-cycle model with intensive labor supply and endogenous retirement. In this environment, the optimal labor tax is hump-shaped in age: insurance benefits of taxation push for increasing-in-age taxes while rising labor supply elasticities and optimal late retirement of highly productive workers push for lowering taxes for old workers. In calibrated numerical simulations, the optimum achieves sizable welfare gains that age-dependent taxes do not deliver under the status quo US Social Security. Nevertheless, an ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2018-18

Working Paper
Implementing the Modified Golden Rule? Optimal Ramsey Capital Taxation with Incomplete Markets Revisited

What is the prescription of Ramsey capital taxation in the long run? Aiyagari (1995) addressed the question in a heterogeneous-agent incomplete-markets (HAIM) economy, showing that a positive capital tax should be imposed to implement the so-called modified golden rule (MGR). This paper revisits the long-standing issue. We first show that the Aiyagari?s result holds if the shadow price of raising government revenues through distorting taxes converges to zero in the limit at the Ramsey optimum. This ?if? is clearly a strong condition. As long as the condition fails to hold, we show (i) there ...
Working Papers , Paper 2017-3

Working Paper
Optimal Taxes Under Private Information: The Role of the Inflation Tax

We consider an overlapping generation framework with search and private information to study optimal taxation. Agents sequentially trade in markets that are characterized by different frictions and trading protocols. In frictional decentralized markets, agents receive shocks that determine if they are going to be consumers or producers. Shocks are private information. Mechanism design is used to solve for the constrained optimal allocation. We then study whether a government can replicate the constrained optimal allocation with an array of policy instruments including fiat money. We show that ...
Working Papers , Paper 2017-14

Working Paper
The Determination of Public Debt under both Aggregate and Idiosyncratic Uncertainty

We analyze the Ramsey planner's decisions to finance stochastic public expenditures under incomplete insurance markets for idiosyncratic risk. We show analytically that whenever the market interest rate lies below the time discount rate, the Ramsey planner has a dominant incentive to increase debt to meet the private sector's demand for full self-insurance regardless of the relative size of aggregate shocks---suggesting a departure from tax smoothing. However, if a full self-insurance Ramsey allocation is infeasible in the absence of a government debt limit, an interior or bounded Ramsey ...
Working Papers , Paper 2019-038

Working Paper
A Quantitative Theory of Time-Consistent Unemployment Insurance

During recessions, the U.S. government substantially increases the duration of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through multiple extensions. This paper seeks to understand the incentives driving these increases. Because of the trade-off between insurance and job search incentives, the classic time-inconsistency problem arises. During recessions, the U.S. government substantially increases the duration of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through multiple extensions. This paper seeks to understand the incentives driving these extensions. Because of the trade-off between insurance and ...
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2016-11

Working Paper
Optimal Fiscal Policies under Market Failures

The aggregate capital stock in a nation can be overaccumulated for many different reasons. This paper studies which policy or policy mix is more effective in achieving the socially optimal (modified golden rule) level of aggregate capital stock in an infinite-horizon heterogeneous-agents incomplete-markets economy where capital may be over-accumulated for two distinct reasons: (i) precautionary savings and (ii) production externalities. By solving the Ramsey problem analytically along the entire transitional path, we show that public debt and capital taxation play very distinct roles in ...
Working Papers , Paper 2020-002

Report
Optimal Income Taxation: Mirrlees Meets Ramsey

What structure of income taxation maximizes the social benefits of redistribution while minimizing the social harm associated with distorting the allocation of labor input? Many authors have advocated scrapping the current tax system, which redistributes primarily via marginal tax rates that rise with income, and replacing it with a flat tax system, in which marginal tax rates are constant and redistribution is achieved via non-means-tested transfers. In this paper we compare alternative tax systems in an environment with distinct roles for public and private insurance. We evaluate ...
Staff Report , Paper 507

Working Paper
Don’t Tax Capital — Optimal Ramsey Taxation in Heterogeneous Agent Economies with Quasi-Linear Preferences

We build a tractable heterogeneous-agent incomplete-markets model with quasi-linear preferences to address a set of long-standing issues in the optimal Ramsey taxation literature. The tractability of our model enables us to analytically prove the existence of a Ramsey steady state and establish several novel results: (i) Depending on the government's capacity to issue debt, there can exist different types of Ramsey steady states but they have the same implications for optimal long-run tax policies. (ii) The optimal capital tax is exclusively zero in a Ramsey steady state regardless of the ...
Working Papers , Paper 2019-007

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