Comparing budget repair measures for a small open economy with growing debt

CAMA Working Paper 73/2016
Author name: 
George Kudrna
Chung Tran

In this study, we quantify the macroeconomic and welfare effects of alternative fiscal consolidation plans in the context of a small open economy. Using a computable overlapping generations model tailored to the Australian economy, we examine immediate and gradual eliminations of the existing fiscal deficit with (i) temporary income tax hikes, (ii) temporary consumption tax hikes and (iii) temporary transfer payment cuts. The simulation results indicate that all three examined fiscal measures result in favourable long-run macroeconomic and welfare outcomes, but have adverse consequences in the short run that are particularly severe under the immediate fiscal consolidation plan. Moreover, our results show that cutting transfer payments leads to the worst welfare outcome for all generations currently alive, and especially the poor. Increasing the consumption tax rate results in smaller welfare losses, but compared to raising income taxes, the current poor households pay much larger welfare costs. Overall, the welfare trade-offs between current and future generations, as well as between the rich and poor, highlight key political constraints and point to challenging policy choices for the wellbeing of future generations.

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