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A Ramsey Theory of Financial Distortions
The interest rate on government debt is significantly lower than the rates of return on other assets. From the perspective of standard models of optimal taxation, this empirical fact is puzzling: typically, the government should finance expenditures either through contingent taxes, or by previously-issued state-contingent debt, or by labor taxes, with only minor effects arising from intertemporal distortions on interest rates. We study how this answer changes in an economy with financial frictions, where the government cannot directly redistribute towards the agents in need of liquidity, but ...