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Stepping on a rake: The role of fiscal policy in the inflation of the 1970s


  • Sims, Christopher A.


The inflation of the 1970s in the US is often discussed as if the only type of policy action that could have prevented the inflation were monetary policy actions and the only type of policy errors that might have induced the inflation were monetary policy errors. Yet fiscal policy underwent dramatic shifts in the 1970s and economic theory makes clear that in an environment of uncertainty about future fiscal policy, monetary policy instruments may lose potency or have perverse effects. This paper documents the vagaries of fiscal policy in this period and argues that people at the time must have been uncertain about fiscal policy's future course. It also lays out a theoretical framework for understanding the effects of fiscal uncertainties on monetary policy and shows that fiscal variables have predictive value in dynamic models, even if traditional monetary policy indicators are included in the system.

Suggested Citation

  • Sims, Christopher A., 2011. "Stepping on a rake: The role of fiscal policy in the inflation of the 1970s," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 48-56, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:55:y:2011:i:1:p:48-56

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Leeper, Eric M., 1991. "Equilibria under 'active' and 'passive' monetary and fiscal policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 129-147, February.
    2. Sims, Christopher A, 1994. "A Simple Model for Study of the Determination of the Price Level and the Interaction of Monetary and Fiscal Policy," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 4(3), pages 381-399.
    3. Michael Woodford, 1996. "Control of the Public Debt: A Requirement for Price Stability?," NBER Working Papers 5684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eric M. Leeper & Todd B. Walker, 2011. "Fiscal Limits in Advanced Economies," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 30(1), pages 33-47, March.
    2. Katrin Wölfel & Christoph S. Weber, 2017. "Searching for the Fed’s reaction function," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 52(1), pages 191-227, February.
    3. Bianchi, Francesco & Kung, Howard, 2014. "Growth, Slowdowns, and Recoveries," CEPR Discussion Papers 10291, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Jean-Louis Combes & Alexandru Minea & René Tapsoba, 2012. "Inflation Targeting and Fiscal Rules: Do Interactions and Sequence of Adoption Matter?," Working Papers halshs-00714243, HAL.
    5. repec:eee:jebusi:v:93:y:2017:i:c:p:46-61 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Brian Piper, 2014. "Factor-Specific Productivity," Working Papers 1401, Sam Houston State University, Department of Economics and International Business.
    7. repec:eee:eecrev:v:101:y:2018:i:c:p:354-375 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Falck, Elisabeth & Hoffmann, Mathias & Hürtgen, Patrick, 2017. "Disagreement and monetary policy," Discussion Papers 29/2017, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    9. repec:eee:macchp:v2-2305 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Kenta Inoue, 2014. "Is Correlation Puzzle Really Puzzling? Reassessing Motives Of Foreign Asset Holdings By Us Investors," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(2), pages 160-172, March.
    11. Kliem, Martin & Kriwoluzky, Alexander & Sarferaz, Samad, 2016. "Monetary–fiscal policy interaction and fiscal inflation: A tale of three countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 158-184.
    12. Pedro Gomis-Porqueras & Solmaz Moslehi & Vivianne Vilar, 2013. "The Fiscal Theory of the Price Level When All Income is Taxed," Monash Economics Working Papers 09-13, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    13. Gliksberg, Baruch, "undated". "Solving Boundary Value Problems in the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level," Working Papers WP2013/2, University of Haifa, Department of Economics.
    14. Muhammad Ali Nasir & Alaa M. Soliman & Milton Yago & Junjie Wu, 2016. "Macroeconomic Policies Interaction & the Symmetry of Financial Markets’ Responses," Journal of Central Banking Theory and Practice, Central bank of Montenegro, vol. 5(1), pages 53-69.
    15. Katrin Woelfel & Christoph Weber, 2014. "Searching for the FED's Reaction Function," Working Papers 154, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
    16. Bai, Yuting & Leeper, Eric M., 2017. "Fiscal stabilization vs. passivity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 105-108.
    17. Fuad Hasanov & Reda Cherif, 2012. "Public Debt Dynamics; The Effects of Austerity, Inflation, and Growth Shocks," IMF Working Papers 12/230, International Monetary Fund.
    18. Jean-Louis Combes & Xavier Debrun & Alexandru Minea & Rene Tapsoba, 2014. "Inflation Targeting and Fiscal Rules; Do Interactions and Sequencing Matter?," IMF Working Papers 14/89, International Monetary Fund.
    19. Minea, Alexandru & Tapsoba, René, 2014. "Does inflation targeting improve fiscal discipline?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 185-203.

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    Monetary Fiscal Inflation;


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