Discussion Paper Series 2018-E-15

Redistribution and Fiscal Uncertainty Shocks

Hikaru Saijo

This paper studies the macroeconomic impact of an uncertainty shock about fiscal policy in a dynamic general equilibrium framework. Motivated by the observation that many fiscal policies are redistributive and that a sizable fraction of U.S. households do not own capital, I introduce household heterogeneity in the form of limited capital market participation. I show that household heterogeneity significantly magnifies the aggregate effect and induces co-movement of macroeconomic variables in a contraction that is generated by a fiscal uncertainty shock. This is because the limited capital market participation model captures individual uncertainty about redistribution that is absent in representative agent models. When agents are ambiguity averse, this uncertainty about redistribution has first-order effects because it shows up as heterogeneous worst-case scenarios. As a result, the model matches the empirical responses of macro variables to fiscal uncertainty shocks better than the representative agent counterpart.

Keywords: fiscal policy uncertainty; ambiguity; limited stock market participation; redistribution

Views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bank of Japan or Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies.

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