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Distortionary Taxation, Debt, and the Price Level

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Abstract

This paper compares the determinacy of equilibria under exogenous interest rates in an economy with a cash constraint, in which taxation is lump-sum or distortionary. Under passive fiscal policies lump-sum taxes generate nominal indeterminacy, while with distortionary taxes indeterminacy can be real, but not purely nominal. In general, under distortionary taxation uniqueness of the equilibrium allocation depends on monetary and fiscal policy interactions through taxes, debt, and interest rates. To illustrate this principle, we consider balanced-budget policies under distortionary income taxation and show that a unique equilibrium allocation prevails if interest rates are set consistent with long-run deflation. A separate section extends the analysis to endogenous interest rates.

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