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Government debt and optimal monetary and fiscal policy

  • Adam, Klaus

How do different levels of government debt affect the optimal conduct of monetary and fiscal policies? And what do these optimal policies imply for the evolution of government debt over time? To provide an answer, this paper studies a standard monetary policy model with nominal rigidities and monopolistic competition and adds to it a fiscal authority that issues nominal non-state contingent debt, levies distortionary labor income taxes and determines the level of public goods provision. Higher government debt levels make it optimal to reduce public spending, so as to dampen the adverse incentive effects of distortionary taxes, but also strongly influence the optimal stabilization response following technology shocks. In particular, higher debt levels give rise to larger risks to the fiscal budget and to tax rates. This makes it optimal to reduce government debt over time. The optimal speed of debt reduction is missed when using first-order approximations to optimal policies, but is shown to be quantitatively significant in a second-order approximation, especially when technology movements are largely unpredictable in nature.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 55 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 57-74

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:55:y:2011:i:1:p:57-74
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  1. S. Rao Aiyagari & Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 2002. "Optimal Taxation without State-Contingent Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1220-1254, December.
  2. Ramon Marimon & Javier Díaz-Giménez & Giorgia Giovannetti & Pedro Teles, 2007. "Nominal Debt as a Burden on Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 13677, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Klaus Adam & Roberto M. Billi, 2010. "Distortionary fiscal policy and monetary policy goals," Research Working Paper RWP 10-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  4. Roberto M. Billi & Klaus Adam, 2004. "Optimal Monetary Policy under Commitment with a Zero Bound on Nominal Interest Rates," Computing in Economics and Finance 2004 67, Society for Computational Economics.
  5. Leith, Campbell & Wren-Lewis, Simon, 2012. "Fiscal Sustainability in a New Keynesian Model," SIRE Discussion Papers 2012-84, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  6. Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 2001. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy Under Sticky Prices," CEPR Discussion Papers 2942, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Leith, Campbell & Moldovan, Ioana & Rossi, Raffaele, 2015. "Monetary and fiscal policy under deep habits," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 55-74.
  8. Klaus Adam & Roberto M. Billi, 2007. "Monetary conservatism and fiscal policy," Research Working Paper RWP 07-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  9. Gomme, Paul & Klein, Paul, 2011. "Second-order approximation of dynamic models without the use of tensors," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 604-615, April.
  10. V. V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1991. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy: some recent results," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 519-546.
  11. Woodford, M., 1997. "Doing Without Money: Controlling Inflation in a Post-Monetary World," Papers 632, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  12. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  13. Rotemberg, Julio J, 1982. "Sticky Prices in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1187-1211, December.
  14. Argia M. Sbordone, 2001. "Prices and Unit Labor Costs: A New Test of Price Stickiness," Departmental Working Papers 199822, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  15. 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.
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