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Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy Without Commitment

Stefan Niemann (), Paul Pichler () and Gerhard Sorger ()

Economics Discussion Papers from University of Essex, Department of Economics

Abstract: This paper studies optimal fiscal and monetary policy in a stochastic economy with imperfectly competitive product markets and a discretionary government. We find that, in the flexible price economy, optimal time-consistent policy implements the Friedman rule independently of the degree of imperfect competition. This result is in contrast to the Ramsey literature, where the Friedman rule emerges as the optimal policy only if markets are perfectly competitive. Second, once nominal rigidities are introduced, the Friedman rule ceases to be optimal, inflation rates are low and stable, and tax rates are relatively volatile. Finally, optimal time-consistent policy under sticky prices does not generate the near-random walk behavior of taxes and real debt that can be observed under optimal policy in the Ramsey problem. A common reason for these results is that the discretionary government, in an effort to asymptotically eliminate its time-consistency problem, accumulates a large net asset position such that it can finance its expenditures via the associated interest earnings.

Date: 2008
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