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

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  • Buiter, Willem H.

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Buiter, Willem H., 2003. "Two Naked Emperors? Concerns about the Stability and Growth Pact and Second Thoughts About Central Bank Independence," CEPR Discussion Papers 4001, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Buiter, Willem H., 2007. "Seigniorage," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 1, pages 1-49.
    2. Anna Schwartz, 2004. "Risks to the long-term stability of the euro," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 32(1), pages 1-10, March.
    3. Voyvoda, Ebru & Yeldan, Erinc, 2005. "Managing Turkish debt: An OLG investigation of the IMF's fiscal programming model for Turkey," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 743-765, September.
    4. Willem H. Buiter, 2003. "Helicopter Money: Irredeemable Fiat Money and the Liquidity Trap," NBER Working Papers 10163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    central bank independence; deflation; fiscal rules; helicopter money drop; lender of last resort; stability and growth pact; zero bound;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods

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