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Fiscal Sustainability in a New Keynesian Model

  • CAMPBELL LEITH
  • SIMON WREN‐LEWIS

Recent work on optimal monetary and fiscal policy in New Keynesian models suggests that it is optimal to allow steady-state debt to follow a random walk. Leith and Wren-Lewis (2012) consider the nature of the timeinconsistency involved in such a policy and its implication for discretionary policy-making. We show that governments are tempted, given inflationary expectations, to utilize their monetary and fiscal instruments in the initial period to change the ultimate debt burden they need to service. We demonstrate that this temptation is only eliminated if following shocks, the new steady-state debt is equal to the original (efficient) debt level even though there is no explicit debt target in the government’s objective function. Analytically and in a series of numerical simulations we show which instrument is used to stabilize the debt depends crucially on the degree of nominal inertia and the size of the debt-stock. We also show that the welfare consequences of introducing debt are negligible for precommitment policies, but can be significant for discretionary policy. Finally, we assess the credibility of commitment policy by considering a quasi-commitment policy which allows for different probabilities of reneging on past promises. This on-line Appendix extends the results of this paper.

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Article provided by Blackwell Publishing in its journal Journal of Money, Credit and Banking.

Volume (Year): 45 (2013)
Issue (Month): 8 (December)
Pages: 1477-1516

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Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:45:y:2013:i:8:p:1477-1516
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0022-2879

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  1. Lombardo, Giovanni & Sutherland, Alan, 2003. "Monetary and fiscal interactions in open economies," Working Paper Series 0289, European Central Bank.
  2. Maurice Obstfeld, 1989. "Dynamic Seigniorage Theory: An Exploration," NBER Working Papers 2869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2004. "Optimal Monetary and Fiscal Policy: A Linear-Quadratic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18, pages 271-364 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Leith, Campbell & Wren-Lewis, Simon, 2000. "Interactions between Monetary and Fiscal Policy Rules," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages C93-108, March.
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  8. Leith, Campbell & Malley, Jim, 2005. "Estimated general equilibrium models for the evaluation of monetary policy in the US and Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 2137-2159, November.
  9. 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.
  10. Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2004. "Comparing shocks and frictions in US and euro area business cycles: a Bayesian DSGE approach," Working Paper Research 61, National Bank of Belgium.
  11. Ellison, Martin & Rankin, Neil, 2007. "Optimal monetary policy when lump-sum taxes are unavailable: A reconsideration of the outcomes under commitment and discretion," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 219-243, January.
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  13. Leith, Campbell & Wren-Lewis, Simon, 2006. "Compatibility between monetary and fiscal policy under EMU," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1529-1556, August.
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  16. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy: Some Recent Results," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 540-42, August.
  17. Campbell Leith & Simon Wren-lewis, 2006. "The Costs of Fiscal Inflexibility," WEF Working Papers 0005, ESRC World Economy and Finance Research Programme, Birkbeck, University of London.
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