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Helicopter Money: Irredeemable Fiat Money and the Liquidity Trap

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  • Buiter, Willem H.

Abstract

The Paper provides a formalization of the monetary economics folk proposition that government fiat money is an asset of the holder (the private sector) but not a liability of the issuer (the state). Money is 'net wealth' in the limited sense that, after consolidation of the intertemporal budget constraints of the private and public sectors, the present value of the terminal money stock remains a component of comprehensive household wealth. The issuance of irredeemable fiat money can therefore affect consumption demand through a weak 'real balance or Pigou effect', if it can alter the present value of the terminal stock of money. With irredeemable fiat money, weak restrictions on the monetary policy rule suffice to rule out liquidity trap equilibria (that is, equilibria in which all current and future short nominal interest rates are at their lower bound) that are also rational expectations equilibria. Liquidity trap equilibria that are not (long run) rational expectations equilibria can exist if and for as long as the private sector has incorrect but irrefutable expectations that the monetary authorities will ultimately reverse, in present value, any current expansion of the monetary base. If 'quantitative easing' is never reversed, in present value terms, and never expected to be reversed, liquidity trap equilibria cannot occur.

Suggested Citation

  • Buiter, Willem H., 2004. "Helicopter Money: Irredeemable Fiat Money and the Liquidity Trap," CEPR Discussion Papers 4202, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4202
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    Cited by:

    1. Buiter, Willem H., 2004. "The Elusive Welfare Economics of Price Stability As A Monetary Policy Objective: Should New Keynesian Central Bankers Persue Price Stability," CEPR Discussion Papers 4730, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. 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.
    3. Buiter, Willem H. & Sibert, Anne C., 2007. "Deflationary Bubbles," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(04), pages 431-454, September.
    4. Willem Buiter, 2007. "Is Numérairology the Future of Monetary Economics?," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 127-156, April.
    5. Buiter, Willem H., 2009. "Negative nominal interest rates: Three ways to overcome the zero lower bound," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 213-238, December.
    6. Willem Buiter, 2004. "A Small Corner of Intertemporal Public Finance - New Developments in Monetary Economics: 2 Ghosts, 2 Eccentricities, A Fallacy, A Mirage and A Mythos," NBER Working Papers 10524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. 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.
    8. Buiter, Willem H., 2014. "The simple analytics of helicopter money: Why it works - always," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 8, pages 1-51.
    9. Buiter, Willem H., 2006. "How Robust is the New Conventional Wisdom? The Surprising Fragility of the Theoretical Foundations of Inflation Targeting and Central Bank Independence," CEPR Discussion Papers 5772, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Tomasz Michalak & Jacob Engwerda & Joseph Plasmans, 2009. "Strategic Interactions between Fiscal and Monetary Authorities in a Multi-Country New-Keynesian Model of a Monetary Union," CESifo Working Paper Series 2534, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Willem Buiter, 2005. "Overcoming the zero bound on nominal interest rates: Gesell’s currency carry tax vs. Eisler’s parallel virtual currency," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 189-200, November.
    12. Buiter, Willem H., 2006. "The elusive welfare economics of price stability as a monetary policy objective: why New Keynesian central bankers should validate core inflation," Working Paper Series 609, European Central Bank.
    13. 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.
    14. Buiter, Willem H. & Sibert, Anne C., 2017. "The fallacy of the fiscal theory of the price level - one last time," Economics Discussion Papers 2017-84, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    15. John H. Cochrane, 2009. "Comment on "On the Need for a New Approach to Analyzing Monetary Policy"," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, Volume 23, pages 427-448 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Bossone, Biagio, 2014. "Secular stagnation," Economics Discussion Papers 2014-47, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    17. W.H. Buiter, 2007. "Is Numérairology the Future of Monetary Economics? Unbundling numéraire and medium of exchange through a virtual currency and a shadow exchange rate," CEP Discussion Papers dp0776, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    18. Bennett T. McCallum, 2011. "Should central banks raise their inflation targets? Some relevant issues," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue 2Q, pages 111-131.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    helicopter money drop; irredeemable money; liquidity trap; monetary policy effectiveness; zero bound;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E41 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Demand for Money
    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • 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

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