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Government debt and optimal monetary and fiscal policy

Listed author(s):
  • 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
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

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  1. Díaz-Giménez, Javier & Giovannetti, Giorgia & Marimon, Ramon & Teles, Pedro, 2007. "Nominal Debt as a Burden on Monetary Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 6595, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Campbell Leith & Simon Wren-lewis, 2006. "Fiscal Sustainability in a New Keynesian Model," WEF Working Papers 0006, ESRC World Economy and Finance Research Programme, Birkbeck, University of London.
  3. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2006. "Optimal Monetary Policy under Commitment with a Zero Bound on Nominal Interest Rates," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(7), pages 1877-1905, October.
  4. 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.
  5. Sbordone, Argia, 1998. "Prices and Unit Labor Costs: A New Test of Price Stickiness," Seminar Papers 653, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  6. 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.
  7. Woodford, Michael, 1997. "Doing Without Money: Controlling Inflation in a Post-Monetary World," Seminar Papers 632, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  8. 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.
  9. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2006. "Monetary conservatism and fiscal policy," Working Paper Series 0663, European Central Bank.
  10. Campbell Leith & Ioana Moldovan & Raffaele Rossi, 2009. " Monetary and Fiscal Policy under Deep Habits," CDMA Conference Paper Series 0905, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
  11. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M, 2010. "Distortionary fiscal policy and monetary policy goals," CEPR Discussion Papers 7741, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 2001. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy Under Sticky Prices," CEPR Discussion Papers 2942, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. Chari, V V & Christiano, Lawrence J & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1991. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy: Some Recent Results," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 519-539, August.
  15. 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.
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