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Liquidity Traps: How to Avoid Them and How to Escape Them

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  • Buiter, Willem H
  • Panigirtzoglou, Nikolaos

Abstract

The paper considers ways of avoiding a liquidity trap and ways of getting out of one. Unless lower short nominal interest rates are associated with significantly lower interest volatility, a lower average rate of inflation, which will be associated with lower expected nominal interest rates, increases the odds that the zero nominal interest rate floor will become a binding constraint. The empirical evidence on this issue is mixed. Once in a liquidity trap, there are two means of escape. The first is to use expansionary fiscal policy. The second is to lower the zero nominal interest rate floor. This second option involves paying negative interest on government 'bearer bonds' -- coin and currency, that is 'taxing money', as advocated by Gesell. This would also reduce the likelihood of ending up in a liquidity trap. Taxing currency amounts to having periodic 'currency reforms', that is, compulsory conversions of 'old' currency into 'new' currency, say by stamping currency. The terms of the conversion can be set to achieve any positive or negative interest rate on currency. There are likely to be significant shoe leather costs associated with such schemes. The policy question then becomes how much shoe leather it takes to fill an output gap? Finally the paper develops a simple analytical model showing how the economy can get into a liquidity trap and how Gesell money is one way of avoiding it or escaping from it.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 2203.

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Date of creation: Aug 1999
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2203

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Keywords: Gesell; Inflation Targeting; Liquidity Trap; Multiple Equilbria; Stamp Scrip;

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References

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  1. Coenen, Günter & Orphanides, Athanasios & Wieland, Volker, 2003. "Price Stability and Monetary Policy Effectiveness when Nominal Interest Rates are Bounded at Zero," CEPR Discussion Papers 3892, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Willem H. Buiter & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 1999. "Liquidity Traps: How to Avoid Them and How to Escape Them," NBER Working Papers 7245, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. James Tobin, 1956. "Liquidity Preference as Behavior Towards Risk," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 14, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. Chan, K C, et al, 1992. " An Empirical Comparison of Alternative Models of the Short-Term Interest Rate," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(3), pages 1209-27, July.
  5. George A. Akerlof & William R. Dickens & George L. Perry, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Low Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
  6. Chadha, Jagjit S & Haldane, Andrew G & Janssen, Norbert G J, 1998. "Shoe-Leather Costs Reconsidered," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(447), pages 363-82, March.
  7. Buiter, Willem H., 1977. "`Crowding out' and the effectiveness of fiscal policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 309-328, June.
  8. Laurence Ball & Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1990. "Inflation and Uncertainty at Long and Short Horizons," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 21(1), pages 215-254.
  9. Clouse James & Henderson Dale & Orphanides Athanasios & Small David H. & Tinsley P.A., 2003. "Monetary Policy When the Nominal Short-Term Interest Rate is Zero," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-65, September.
  10. Taylor, John B., 1981. "On the relation between the variability of inflation and the average inflation rate," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 57-85, January.
  11. Karl-Heinz Todter & Gerhard Ziebarth, 1997. "Price Stability vs. Low Inflation in Germany: An Analysis of Costs and Benefits," NBER Working Papers 6170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Martin Feldstein, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Going from Low Inflation to Price Stability," NBER Working Papers 5469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Arthur M. Okun, 1975. "Inflation: Its Mechanics and Welfare Costs," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 6(2), pages 351-402.
  14. Karen Johnson & David Small & Ralph Tryon, 1999. "Monetary policy and price stability," International Finance Discussion Papers 641, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  15. Paul R. Krugman, 1998. "It's Baaack: Japan's Slump and the Return of the Liquidity Trap," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 137-206.
  16. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1997. "Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number rome97-1.
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