Authors: Ivens, Annika
Title: Essays on fiscal policy: trade balance deficits, private debt deleveraging, and heterogeneous agents
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: This thesis addresses three issues of (optimal) fiscal policy related to recent economic developments. The first essay refers to specific economic problems arising in a monetary union by building on a two-country DSGE model where the two countries belong to a monetary union featuring intra-union trade balance imbalances. It is explored if and how a unilaterally implemented budget-neutral tax shift from direct to indirect taxation (fiscal devaluation) may decrease these imbalances. The fiscal devaluation is simulated as a decrease in the social security contributions and an increase in the value added tax. In the first part of the essay, the determinants of the effectiveness of a fiscal devaluation in raising the trade balance are explored. In the second part, these insights are used to simulate a fiscal devaluation applied in the Euro area countries featuring large trade balance deficits. It is found that a fiscal devaluation may be quite effective in reducing trade balance imbalances. In the second essay, the event of a financial shock is regarded. A closed-economy DSGE model is used to simulate a private debt deleveraging shock in a situation where the monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound. It is shown that huge welfare losses may arise in such a situation where nominal interest rates are at the zero lower bound. Building on this insight, fiscal policy measures aiming at economic stabilization are investigated. It is found that applying a constrained-optimal fiscal policy in this situation of monetary policy being constrained by the zero lower bound may be highly effective where following the optimal fiscal policy implies a prolonged period of zero interest rates. Finally, the third essay addresses the issue of national distributive effects of these fiscal policy measures by regarding heterogeneous agents within a single country and raising the question of an appropriate social welfare measure. A closed-economy DSGE model populated by two types of households is used to simulate an interest spread shock. While in the main part of the paper the Ramsey planner is modeled in a utilitarian fashion, the results are compared to the case of a Ramsey planner maximizing a social welfare function in the spirit of Rawls. The results indicate that welfare losses of an interest spread shock can be reduced to a larger extent by taxing interest income than by using wage taxes. Moreover, as a central point, it is found that maximizing economy-wide welfare may involve enlarging the disparity between agents if using a utilitarian definition of a social welfare function. Using a social welfare function in the spirit of Rawls can completely offset the disparity between groups but implies a significant decrease in the savers' welfare as well as large output fluctuations. In sum, this thesis shows that fiscal policy may be quite effective in mitigating welfare losses of economic adjustment processes or financial shocks but that distributive issues of these policies seem to be of importance and should be considered in the context of optimal fiscal policy.
Subject Headings: Fiscal policy
Trade balance
Private debt
Subject Headings (RSWK): Steuerpolitik
Handelsbilanz
Schuldentilgung
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2003/38024
http://dx.doi.org/10.17877/DE290R-20007
Issue Date: 2019
Appears in Collections:Fachgebiet Applied Economics

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