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Dormant Shocks and Fiscal Virtue

In: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2013, Volume 28

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  • Francesco Bianchi
  • Leonardo Melosi

Abstract

We develop a model in which the current behavior of the fiscal and monetary authorities influence agents' beliefs about the way debt will be stabilized. The standard policy mix consists of a virtuous fiscal authority that moves taxes in response to debt and a Central Bank that has full control over inflation. When policy makers deviate from this virtuous policy mix, agents conduct Bayesian learning to infer the likely duration of the deviation. As agents observe more and more deviations, they become increasingly pessimistic about a prompt return to the virtuous regime and inflation starts moving to keep debt on a stable path. Shocks which were dormant under the virtuous policy mix start now manifesting themselves. These changes are initially imperceptible, but they unfold over decades and accelerate as agents get convinced that the fiscal authority will not raise taxes. Dormant fiscal shocks can account for the run-up of inflation in the `70s and the deflationary pressure of the early 2000s. We point out that the currently low long term interest rates and inflation expectations might hide the true risk of inflation faced by the US economy.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Jonathan A. Parker & Michael Woodford, 2014. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2013, Volume 28," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number park13-1, October.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12935.

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    Cited by:
    1. Leonardo Melosi & Francesco Bianchi, 2013. "Escaping the Great Recession," 2013 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 203, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Peter Tillmann & Maik Wolters, 2014. "The changing dynamics of US inflation persistence: a quantile regression approach," Kiel Working Papers 1951, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
    3. Scott R. Baker & Nicholas Bloom, 2013. "Does Uncertainty Reduce Growth? Using Disasters as Natural Experiments," CEP Discussion Papers dp1243, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. Davig, Troy A. & Foerster, Andrew T., 2014. "Uncertainty and fiscal cliffs," Research Working Paper, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City RWP 14-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    5. Alexander W. Richter & Nathaniel A. Throckmorton, 2013. "The Consequences of Uncertain Debt Targets," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Auburn University auwp2013-18, Department of Economics, Auburn University.

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