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The Fallacy of the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level, Again

The Fiscal Theory of the Price Level (FTPL) rejects the fundamental 'Ricardian' proposition, that the government budget constraint must hold identically, that is for all admissible values of the variables entering the budget constraint. Accordingly, if the government is to meet its contractual debt obligations, one of its instruments must be determined residually to ensure the budget constraint is satisfied. If the government overdetermines its fiscal-financial-monetary policy programme, contractual debt obligations will not be met. The FTPL asserts that even when the government overdetermines its policy programme, contractual debt obligations will always be met. The general price level plays the role of a default premium or discount. The paper shows that the FTPL is a fallacy and leads to anomalies and contradictions.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 303.

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Date of creation: 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_303
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  1. Michael Woodford, 1998. "Doing Without Money: Controlling Inflation in a Post-Monetary World," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 173-219, January.
  2. John H. Cochrane, 1998. "A Frictionless View of U.S. Inflation," CRSP working papers 479, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  3. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 1982. "Speculative Hyperinflations in Maximizing Models: Can We Rule Them Out?," NBER Working Papers 0855, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Buiter, Willem H, 1987. "A Fiscal Theory of Hyperdeflations? Some Surprising Monetarist Arithmetic," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(1), pages 111-18, March.
  5. Bennett T. McCallum, . "Indeterminacy, Bubbles, and the Fiscal Theory of Price Level Determination," GSIA Working Papers 1998-19, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  6. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
  7. Michael Woodford, 1996. "Control of the Public Debt: A Requirement for Price Stability?," NBER Working Papers 5684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. John H. Cochrane, 1998. "Long-term Debt and Optimal Policy in the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level," CRSP working papers 478, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  9. Leeper, Eric M., 1991. "Equilibria under 'active' and 'passive' monetary and fiscal policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 129-147, February.
  10. Matthew B. Canzoneri & Robert E. Cumby & Behzad T. Diba, 1998. "Is the Price Level Determined by the Needs of Fiscal Solvency?," NBER Working Papers 6471, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Sims, Christopher A, 1994. "A Simple Model for Study of the Determination of the Price Level and the Interaction of Monetary and Fiscal Policy," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 381-99.
  12. Woodford, Michael, 1994. "Monetary Policy and Price Level Determinacy in a Cash-in-Advance Economy," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 345-80.
  13. Michael Woodford, 1995. "Price Level Determinacy Without Control of a Monetary Aggregate," NBER Working Papers 5204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, June.
  15. Willem H. Buiter, 1998. "The Young Person's Guide to Neutrality, Price Level Indeterminacy, Interest Rate Pegs, and Fiscal Theories of the Price Level," NBER Working Papers 6396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Dupor, Bill, 2000. "Exchange rates and the fiscal theory of the price level," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 613-630, June.
  17. Obstfeld, Maurice & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1986. "Ruling out divergent speculative bubbles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 349-362, May.
  18. John H. Cochrane, 2000. "Money as Stock: Price Level Determination with no Money Demand," NBER Working Papers 7498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1982. "Interest rates and currency prices in a two-country world," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 335-359.
  20. Norbert Janssen & Charles Nolan & Ryland Thomas, 2004. "Money, Debt and Prices in the UK 1705-1996," CDMA Working Paper Series 200407, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
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