"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Abenomics and sales tax

Japan Sales Tax to Increase Next Year, Abe Says

Japan’s consumption tax: a test of modern macro? by Simon Wren-Lewis
The common theme here is the importance that modern macro places on expectations of a fairly rational kind. Yet even if you are happy to go along with this, there is an important proviso that does not get emphasised enough. How did consumers know that the budget deficit would be reduced by raising taxes rather than cutting spending? If they had expected the deficit to be reduced by lower government spending, they will not have expected a fall in their post-tax real income. For these consumers the Prime Minister’s announcement will come as a surprise, and they will reduce their consumption as a result.

This argument is completely consistent with consumers being rational and forward looking, as I emphasise
here. All the behavioural assumptions required for Ricardian Equivalence can still be there. What Ricardian Equivalence implicitly does is hold the path of future government spending fixed, but that is an artificial assumption which cannot be true in practice, if only because of political uncertainty. (The argument applies more generally to the small amount of modelling that has attempted to demonstrate ‘expansionary austerity’.)

So we can summarise as follows. If consumption remains on average unperturbed by the sales tax increase (perhaps showing a positive spike before April 2014 which is only partially offset by falls thereafter), then modern macro can pat itself on the back. On the other hand if consumption does take a significant hit, modern macro has an escape clause. Let us hope it does not need it.
Edit: Abe Increases Both Stimulus Spending and Taxes!? What’s Up with That? by Jared Bernstein

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