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The Fallacy of the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level - Once More

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  • Buiter, Willem H.

Abstract

Necessary conditions for valid dynamic general equilibrium analysis include: (1) the number of equations equals the number of unknowns; (2) the number of state variables equals the number of boundary conditions; (3) if (1) and (2) hold, the resulting solution(s) make sense. The fiscal theory of the price level fails on all three counts, both away from and at the ELB. The underlying fallacy is the confusion of the intertemporal budget constraint of the State with a misspecified government bond pricing equilibrium equation. This means overdetermined systems unless (a) the price level is flexible, (b) the interest rate is the monetary policy instrument and (c) there is a non-zero stock of nominal government bonds. Thus, a sticky price level or a nominal money stock rule imply inconsistency. When all three conditions are satisfied, unacceptable anomalies occur: negative price levels; the FTPL can price money when money does not exist; the logic of the FTPL applies equally to the intertemporal budget constraint of any household; when the bond pricing equation is specified correctly, there is no FTPL. The FTPL has nothing to do with monetary vs. fiscal dominance or active v. passive fiscal policy. The FTPL implies government debt is never a problem; the price level takes care of it, and not through unanticipated inflation or financial repression. If acted upon by fiscal authorities, the consequences could be severe. There is a correct fiscal theory of seigniorage. The issuance of return-dominated and/or irredeemable central bank money creates fiscal space and ensures that a combined monetary-fiscal stimulus always boosts nominal aggregate demand.

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  • Buiter, Willem H., 2017. "The Fallacy of the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level - Once More," CEPR Discussion Papers 11941, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11941
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Buiter, Willem H., 2017. "The Good and the Bad Fiscal Theory of the Price Level," CEPR Discussion Papers 11975, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Buiter, Willem H. & Sibert, Anne C., 2018. "The fallacy of the fiscal theory of the price level: One last time," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 12, pages 1-56.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    equilibrium bond pricing equation; fiscal dominance.; Fiscal theory of the price level; intertemporal budget constraint; monetary and fiscal policy coordination;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E40 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - General
    • E50 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - General
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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