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The Mystique Surrounding the Central Bank's Balance Sheet, Applied to the European Crisis

  • Ricardo Reis

A central bank's resource constraint bounds the dividends it can distribute by the present value of seignorage, which is a modest share of GDP. This is in spite of the mystique behind a central bank's balance sheet. Moreover, the statutes of the Federal Reserve or the ECB make it difficult for it to redistribute resources across regions. In a simple model of sovereign default, where multiple equilibria arise if debt repudiation lowers fiscal surpluses, the central bank may help to select one equilibrium. The central bank's main lever over fundamentals is to raise inflation, but otherwise the balance sheet gives it little leeway.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 135-40

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:3:p:135-40
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.3.135
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  1. Morris, Stephen & Shin, Hyun Song, 1998. "Unique Equilibrium in a Model of Self-Fulfilling Currency Attacks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 587-97, June.
  2. Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2005. "A Unified Framework for Monetary Theory and Policy Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(3), pages 463-484, June.
  3. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1988. "Servicing the Public Debt: The Role of Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 647-61, September.
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