Uncertainty and the Design of Long-Run Fiscal Policy

29 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 1999 Last revised: 5 May 2000

See all articles by Alan J. Auerbach

Alan J. Auerbach

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Kevin A. Hassett

American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

Date Written: March 1999

Abstract

This paper explores optimal fiscal policy in an overlapping-generations general-equilibrium model under uncertainty and the impact on optimal policy of the introduction of a type of policy stickiness intended to account for the stylized fact that major reforms happen infrequently. In general, our analysis suggests not only that action should not be delayed, but further that action should actually be accelerated. The added realism of restrictions on the frequency of policy changes alters this result in two ways. The prospect of being unable to set policy in the future occasions even more precautionary saving today, if the government acts. However, the government may also choose not to set policy, and its inaction range is very asymmetric. Because the impact of its policies on the current elderly cannot be reversed in the future, the government is much more likely to choose inaction when fiscal tightening is called for. Thus, the optimal policy response over time might best be characterized by great caution in general, but punctuated by occasional periods of apparent irresponsibility.

Suggested Citation

Auerbach, Alan Jeffrey and Hassett, Kevin A., Uncertainty and the Design of Long-Run Fiscal Policy (March 1999). NBER Working Paper No. w7036. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=156670

Alan Jeffrey Auerbach (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States
510-643-0711 (Phone)
510-643-0413 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Kevin A. Hassett

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) ( email )

1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States
202.862.7157 (Phone)
202.862.7177 (Fax)

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
34
Abstract Views
1,183
PlumX Metrics