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Monetary and Fiscal Remedies for Deflation

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  • Alan Auerbach
  • Maurice Obstfeld

Abstract

Prevalent thinking about liquidity traps suggests that the perfect substitutability of money and bonds at a zero short-term nominal interest rate renders open-market operations ineffective for achieving macroeconomic stabilization goals. In an earlier paper, we showed that this reasoning does not hold, that open-market operations can provide substantial macroeconomic benefits and facilitate the use of powerful fiscal policy tools even in a liquidity trap. In this paper, we consider an alternative approach that has been suggested for use in a liquidity trap, a scheduled increase in consumption tax rates. We find that such a policy could, indeed, increase short-run consumption, but would be less effective at increasing welfare or accelerating a country's exit from a liquidity trap. Though a variant of this tax policy might induce exit from a liquidity trap, the impact of welfare is negative in this case as well. We also argue that this alternative tax-rate-based approach is subject to more severe credibility problems than the monetary policy approach explored in our original paper.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10290.

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Date of creation: Feb 2004
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Publication status: published as Auerbach, Alan J. and Maurice Obstfeld. "Monetary And Fiscal Remedies For Deflation," American Economic Review, 2004, v94(2,May), 71-75.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10290

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  1. Auerbach, Alan J. & Obstfeld, Maurice, 2004. "The Case for Open-Market Purchases in a Liquidity Trap," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt1dn4d9sr, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Fumio Hayashi, 2002. "Commentary : Is there a role for discretionary fiscal policy?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 163-172.
  3. Martin Feldstein, 2002. "Commentary : Is there a role for discretionary fiscal policy?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 151-162.
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Cited by:
  1. Lewis, Kenneth A. & Seidman, Laurence S., 2008. "Overcoming the zero interest-rate bound: A quantitative prescription," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 751-760.

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