IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/kap/annfin/v4y2008i2p131-155.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The social value of risk-free government debt

Author

Listed:
  • Stacey Schreft

    ()

  • Bruce Smith

Abstract

This paper considers whether eliminating the stock of government debt outstanding would reduce welfare. It models an economy with three assets—currency, government bonds, and storage, a transactions role for money, and a demand for liquidity and thus a role for banks. The Friedman rule is not optimal in this economy, so there is potentially a role for interest-bearing, risk-free government bonds. Because the government must raise enough revenue to meet its interest obligations on any bonds outstanding, the social value of government debt hinges on whether the benefits from greater portfolio diversification outweigh the costs associated with the necessary revenue-raising efforts. The paper shows that a positive stock of government debt is optimal only if interest payments on the debt are financed via money creation, agents are not too risk averse, there is a primary government budget deficit, and the economy is operating on the bad side of the Laffer curve. But under these conditions, welfare would be even higher if monetary policy were conducted to put the economy on the good side of the Laffer curve and there were no government bonds outstanding. Thus, there is little support for keeping a stock of interest-bearing, risk-free government debt outstanding.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Stacey Schreft & Bruce Smith, 2008. "The social value of risk-free government debt," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 131-155, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:annfin:v:4:y:2008:i:2:p:131-155
    DOI: 10.1007/s10436-007-0073-3
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10436-007-0073-3
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Beatrix Paal & Bruce D. Smith, 2013. "The sub-optimality of the Friedman rule and the optimum quantity of money," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(2), pages 911-948, November.
    2. de V. Cavalcanti, Tiago V. & Villamil, Anne P., 2003. "Optimal Inflation Tax And Structural Reform," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(03), pages 333-362, June.
    3. Stacey L. Schreft & Bruce D. Smith, 2002. "The conduct of monetary policy with a shrinking stock of government debt," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 848-886.
    4. Andrew B. Abel & N. Gregory Mankiw & Lawrence H. Summers & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 1989. "Assessing Dynamic Efficiency: Theory and Evidence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(1), pages 1-19.
    5. Kocherlakota, Narayana R., 2003. "Societal benefits of illiquid bonds," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 179-193, February.
    6. Chari, V.V. & Kehoe, Patrick J., 1999. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1671-1745 Elsevier.
    7. Aiyagari, S. Rao & Gertler, Mark, 1991. "Asset returns with transactions costs and uninsured individual risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 311-331, June.
    8. Bruce Smith & J. Bhattacharya & Mark Guzman, 1998. "Some Even More Unpleasant Monetarist Arithmetic," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(3), pages 596-623, August.
    9. Aiyagari, S. Rao & McGrattan, Ellen R., 1998. "The optimum quantity of debt," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 447-469, October.
    10. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
    11. Smith, Bruce D. & Villamil, Anne P., 1998. "Government borrowing using bonds with randomly determined returns: Welfare improving randomization in the context of deficit finance," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 351-370, April.
    12. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1998. "Private and Public Supply of Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(1), pages 1-40, February.
    13. George J. Hall & Stefan Krieger, 2000. "Tax Smoothing Implications of the Federal Debt Paydown," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(2), pages 253-302.
    14. Townsend, Robert M, 1987. "Economic Organization with Limited Communication," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 954-971, December.
    15. Schreft, Stacey L. & Smith, Bruce D., 2000. "The evolution of cash transactions: Some implications for monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 97-120, August.
    16. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
    17. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
    18. Woodford, Michael, 1990. "Public Debt as Private Liquidity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 382-388, May.
    19. Villamil, Anne P., 1988. "Price discriminating monetary policy : A nonuniform pricing approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 385-392, April.
    20. Caporale, Tony & Grier, Kevin B, 2000. "Political Regime Change and the Real Interest Rate," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(3), pages 320-334, August.
    21. Romer, David, 1993. "Why Should Governments Issue Bonds?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 25(2), pages 163-175, May.
    22. Bruce D. Smith, 2003. "Taking intermediation seriously," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 1319-1377.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Joseph H. Haslag & Antoine Martin, 2003. "Optimality of the Friedman rule in overlapping generations model with spatial separation," Research Working Paper RWP 03-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    2. Bhattacharya, Joydeep & Singh, Rajesh, 2008. "Optimal choice of monetary policy instruments in an economy with real and liquidity shocks," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 1273-1311, April.
    3. Joseph H. Haslag & Antoine Martin, 2007. "Optimality of the Friedman Rule in an Overlapping Generations Model with Spatial Separation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(7), pages 1741-1758, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Government debt; Fiscal policy; Monetary policy; Portfolio allocation; E0; E4; E5; E6; H6; G1;

    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • 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
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:annfin:v:4:y:2008:i:2:p:131-155. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: http://www.springer.com .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.