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The Inconsistency Puzzle Resolved: an Omitted Variable

Arefiev, Nikolay (2008): The Inconsistency Puzzle Resolved: an Omitted Variable.

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Abstract

The contemporary version of the dynamic Ramsey problem omits expectations of a household's initial lump-sum wealth taxation due to policy revision; therefore, the attainable resource allocation set in this problem is ill-defined. This omission leads to misleading conclusions about the optimal policy in the short run and, in particular, that the Ramsey policy is dynamically inconsistent. The effect of introducing the expectations into the analysis of dynamic inconsistency is similar to that of introducing expected inflation into the Phillips curve: we show that only an unexpected policy surprise affects the attainable resource allocation set and the optimal policy. In contrast to Chamley (1986), we show that intensive capital income taxation at the beginning of an optimal policy does not imply a lump-sum taxation of household wealth and cannot reduce the excess tax burden. We also demonstrate that the Ramsey policy is dynamically consistent even without commitment. We resolve the Ramsey problem and compare our results to those of Chamley on optimal capital income taxation.

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