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Two Naked Emperors? Concerns about the Stability and Growth Pact and Second Thoughts About Central Bank Independence

  • Buiter, Willem H.

This 2003 Institute for Fiscal Studies Lecture addresses two sets of issues relevant to current and prospective future E(M)U members: the consequences of the Stability and Growth Pact for fiscal-financial sustainability and macroeconomic stability, and some risks associated with operational independence of the central bank. The relevance of the second issue is not restricted to E(M)U members. Poor communication, cooperation and coordination between the fiscal and monetary authorities can be costly in two contingencies. The first of these occurs when the central bank’s role as the lender of last resort needs to be backed up by the willingness of the Treasury to recapitalize the central bank, should the need arise. The second contingency occurs when unwanted deflation needs to be prevented or combated, but the central bank’s conventional monetary arsenal is exhausted. Friedman’s helicopter drop of money, a temporary tax cut or transfer payment increase financed through the issuance of base money will always stimulate demand provided it is not expected to be reversed, in present value terms, in the future. In most real-world institutional/legal settings the implementation of a helicopter drop of base money requires coordinated actions by the central bank and Treasury. Central bank independence is unlikely to survive if either or both of these contingencies occur, if there is an ineffective response by the fiscal and monetary authorities and if this is blamed on lack of communication, cooperation or coordination.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4001.

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Date of creation: Aug 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4001
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  1. Chamley, Christophe, 1981. "The Welfare Cost of Capital Income Taxation in a Growing Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 468-96, June.
  2. Willem H. Buiter & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 2003. "Overcoming the zero bound on nominal interest rates with negative interest on currency: gesell's solution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 723-746, October.
  3. Christophe Chamley, 1984. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in Economies with Identical Private and Social Discount Rates," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 699, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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  6. Buiter, Willem H. & Panigirtzoglou, Nikolaos, 1999. "Liquidity Traps: How to Avoid Them and How to Escape Them," CEPR Discussion Papers 2203, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "Can international monetary policy cooperation be counterproductive?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3-4), pages 199-217, May.
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  12. Willem H. Buiter, 2003. "Deflation: Prevention and Cure," NBER Working Papers 9623, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Padoa-Schioppa, Tommaso, 1999. "EMU and Banking Supervision," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(2), pages 295-308, July.
  14. M. Fase, 2005. "On Economics and Religion," De Economist, Springer, vol. 153(1), pages 85-106, December.
  15. McCallum, Bennett T, 1995. "Two Fallacies Concerning Central-Bank Independence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 207-11, May.
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