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Discretionary policy in a monetary union with sovereign debt

  • Leith, Campbell
  • Wren-Lewis, Simon

This paper examines the interactions between multiple national fiscal policymakers and a single monetary policy maker in response to shocks to government debt in some or all of the countries of a monetary union. We assume that national governments respond to excess debt in an optimal manner, but that they do not have access to a commitment technology. This implies that national fiscal policy gradually reduces debt: the lack of a commitment technology precludes a random walk in steady-state debt, but the need to maintain national competitiveness avoids excessively rapid debt reduction. If the central bank can commit, it adjusts its policies only slightly in response to higher debt, allowing national fiscal policy to undertake most of the adjustment. However, if it cannot commit, then optimal monetary policy involves using interest rates to rapidly reduce debt, with significant welfare costs. We show that in these circumstances the central bank would do better to ignore national fiscal policies in formulating its policy.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 55 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 93-117

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:55:y:2011:i:1:p:93-117
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

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  1. Benigno, Pierpaolo & Woodford, Michael, 2004. "Optimal monetary and fiscal policy: a linear-quadratic approach," Working Paper Series 0345, European Central Bank.
  2. Gilles Oudiz & Jeffrey Sachs, 1985. "International Policy Coordination in Dynamic Macroeconomic Models," NBER Chapters, in: International Economic Policy Coordination, pages 274-330 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ferrero, Andrea, 2005. "Fiscal and monetary rules for a currency union," Working Paper Series 0502, European Central Bank.
  4. Campbell Leith & Simon Wren‐Lewis, 2013. "Fiscal Sustainability in a New Keynesian Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 45(8), pages 1477-1516, December.
  5. Tatiana Kirsanova & Campbell Leith & Simon Wren-Lewis, 2006. "Should Central Banks Target Consumer Prices or the Exchange Rate?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(512), pages F208-F231, 06.
  6. Javier Díaz-Giménez & Giorgia Giovannetti & Ramon Marimon & Pedro Teles, 2003. "Nominal debt as a burden on monetary policy," Economics Working Papers 841, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2006.
  7. Leith, Campbell & Wren-Lewis, Simon, 2009. "When is Monetary Policy All we Need?," SIRE Discussion Papers 2009-25, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  8. Campbell Leith & Jim Malley, 2002. "Estimated General Equilibrium Models for the Evaluation of Monetary Policy in the US and Europe," CESifo Working Paper Series 699, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 1996. "Optimal taxation without state-contingent debt," Economics Working Papers 170, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2001.
  10. Martin Ellison & Neil Rankin, 2005. " Optimal Monetary Policy When Lump-Sum Taxes Are Unavailable: A Reconsideration of the Outcomes under Commitment and Discretion," CDMA Conference Paper Series 0501, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
  11. Tatiana Kirsanova & Campbell Leith & Simon Wren-Lewis, 2009. "Monetary and Fiscal Policy Interaction: The Current Consensus Assignment in the Light of Recent Developments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(541), pages F482-F496, November.
  12. Jordi Gal� & Tommaso Monacelli, 2005. "Monetary Policy and Exchange Rate Volatility in a Small Open Economy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 707-734.
  13. Söderlind, Paul, 1998. "Solution and Estimation of RE Macromodels with Optimal Policy," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 256, Stockholm School of Economics.
  14. Canzoneri, Matthew B & Cumby, Robert E & Diba, Behzad T, 2001. "Fiscal Discipline and Exchange Rate Systems," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 667-90, October.
  15. Smets, Frank & Wouters, Rafael, 2004. "Comparing Shocks and Frictions in US and Euro Area Business Cycles: A Bayesian DSGE Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 4750, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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