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In Praise of Fiscal Restraint and Debt Rules. What the Euro Zone Might Do Now

  • Hughes Hallett, Andrew

This paper attempts to reconcile the need for flexibility in fiscal policy, with the need for credibility and consistency in monetary policies. The idea is to generate fewer conflicts between policies but greater discipline within them. We assume an independent central bank and restraints on the use of national fiscal policies. Using a theoretical model, we examine the consequences of assigning leadership to fiscal or monetary policies to exploit the implicit (rule based) coordination available under standard transmission mechanisms, but where priorities and targets differ between policy makers. This works best with fiscal leadership: we introduce a debt rule (with hard or soft targets) to precommit fiscal policies over the longer term, but use monetary independence to guarantee credibility and discipline in the short run stabilization policies. Compared to the uncoordinated solution now operating in Europe, inflation biases are lower and debt repayments higher for no loss in output volatility. That corresponds to the experience of the UK, our benchmark case, whose empirical reaction functions show fiscal leadership. Across ten OECD countries, these gains are estimated to be worth 2%-4% of GDP.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5043.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5043
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  1. Barro, Robert J., 1981. "Output Effects of Government Purchases," Scholarly Articles 3451294, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Andrew Hughes Hallett & Diana N. Weymark, 2002. "Independence Before Conservatism: Transparency, Politics, and Central Bank Design," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0202, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  3. Francesco Saraceno & Paola Monperrus-Veroni, 2004. "A Simple Proposal for a 'Debt-Sensitive Stability Pact'," Macroeconomics 0406001, EconWPA.
  4. Andrew Hughes Hallett & Diana N. Weymark, 2003. "Independent Monetary Policies and Social Equality," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0307, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  5. Jacob Frenkel & Morris Goldstein & Paul Masson, 1990. "The Rationale for, and Effects of, International Economic Policy Coordination," NBER Chapters, in: International Policy Coordination and Exchange Rate Fluctuations, pages 9-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Marco Buti & Sylvester Eijffinger & Daniele Franco, 2003. "Revisiting the Stability and Growth Pact: grand design or internal adjustment?," European Economy - Economic Papers 180, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  7. Avinash Dixit & Luisa Lambertini, 2003. "Interactions of Commitment and Discretion in Monetary and Fiscal Policies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1522-1542, December.
  8. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1983. "Rules, Discretion and Reputation in a Model of Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 1079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  10. Andrew Hughes Hallett & Diana N. Weymark, 2002. "Government Leadership and Central Bank Design," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0208, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics, revised Dec 2004.
  11. Dieppe, Alistair & Kuester, Keith & McAdam, Peter, 2004. "Optimal monetary policy rules for the euro area: an analysis using the area wide model," Working Paper Series 0360, European Central Bank.
  12. Andrew Hallett & Nicola Viegi, 2002. "Inflation Targeting as a Coordination Device," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 341-362, October.
  13. Jordi Gali & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Integration in Europe," NBER Working Papers 9773, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Hughes Hallett, A J, 1984. "Non-cooperative Strategies for Dynamic Policy Games and the Problem of Time Inconsistency," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(3), pages 381-99, November.
  15. Andrew Hughes Hallett & Diana N. Weymark, 2002. "Policy Games and the Optimal Design of Central Banks," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0220, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  16. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-152958 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Brandsma, Andries S. & Hughes Hallett, A. J., 1984. "Economic conflict and the solution of dynamic games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1-2), pages 13-32.
  18. Dixit, Avinash, 2001. "Games of monetary and fiscal interactions in the EMU," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 589-613, May.
  19. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1973. "Some International Evidence on Output-Inflation Tradeoffs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 326-34, June.
  20. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-176184 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. A.J. Hallet, 1998. "When Do Target Zones Work? An Examination of Exchange Rate Targeting as a Device for Coordinating Economic Policies," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 115-138, April.
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