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Scarcity of safe assets, inflation, and the policy trap

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  • Andolfatto, David
  • Williamson, Stephen

Abstract

A goal of this paper is to make sense of the seemingly puzzling behavior of interest rates and inflation – and the role of central banks in that behavior – during and after the Great Recession, particularly in the United States. To this end, we construct a model in which government debt plays a key role in exchange, and can bear a liquidity premium. If asset market constraints bind, then there need not be deflation under an indefinite zero interest rate policy (ZIRP). Further, ZIRP may not be optimal under these circumstances. A Taylor-rule central banker could be subject to a ZIRP trap and persistently undershoot target inflation. As well, a liquidity premium on government debt creates additional Taylor rule perils, because of a persistently low real interest rate. We make a case that this is the key policy predicament currently faced by many central banks in the world.

Suggested Citation

  • Andolfatto, David & Williamson, Stephen, 2015. "Scarcity of safe assets, inflation, and the policy trap," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 70-92.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:73:y:2015:i:c:p:70-92
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmoneco.2015.03.008
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Safe assets; Collateral; Policy trap; Monetary policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit

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