Macroeconomic Tradeoffs in the United States and Europe: Fiscal Distortions and the International Monetary Regime
This paper studies the impact of changes in the extent to which fiscal policy is distortionary on the short-run macroeconomic tradeoffs facing fiscal policymakers in an era of budget equilibrium. It does so in an open economy framework, that we use to interpret U.S.-European policy interactions. Our analysis features both fiscal and monetary policy to study how changes in the extent to which fiscal policy is distortionary affect the interaction between central banks and fiscal authorities, both intra- and internationally. In addition, strategic interactions among policymakers≥and the tradeoffs they face≥are affected by the exchange-rate regime. When government spending is funded through distortionary taxes alone≥a scenario that we call anti-Keynesian, changing spending moves both inflation and employment in the desired direction following a worldwide supply shock. Smaller and more open economies face a more favorable tradeoff than large relatively closed ones. Under a managed exchange rate regime, European governments face a better tradeoff than under flexible rates, but the improvement is more significant for the country that controls the exchange rate. When both European countries in our model join in a monetary union, the country that had control of the exchange rate under the managed exchange rate regime faces a worse tradeoff, while the tradeoff improves for the country that controlled money supply. In the fully Keynesian case, in which taxes are non-distortionary, all countries face the same positively sloped tradeoff regardless of the exchange-rate regime. Increases in spending cause both output and inflation to rise. When fiscal policy is neither fully anti-Keynesian nor fully Keynesian, the governments' tradeoffs lie in between the extreme cases, and the exact position depends on the extent to which fiscal policy is Keynesian. Under all European exchange-rate regimes, small increases in the fraction of firms that are subject to distortionary taxation at home are beneficial when the equilibrium is characterized by unemployment, while a less Keynesian fiscal policy abroad is harmful. Governments in the U.S. and Europe will want the ECB and the Fed to coordinate their reactions to an unfavorable supply shock, while monetary policymakers will have little incentive to do so. Intra-European fiscal cooperation can be counterproductive, whereas cooperation between governments and central banks inside each continent can be beneficial. Our study suggests that, if governments are concerned mainly about the relation between fiscal policy and the business cycle, maintaining some fiscal distortions may be optimal.
|Date of creation:||22 Nov 1999|
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