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

Listed author(s):
  • 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
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5043
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  1. Jordi Galí & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal policy and monetary integration in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 18(37), pages 533-572, October.
  2. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
  3. Jacob A. Frenkel & Morris Goldstein & Paul R. Masson, 2017. "The Rationale for, and Effects of, International Economic Policy Coordination," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: TRADE CURRENCIES AND FINANCE, chapter 7, pages 241-298 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
  4. Buti, Marco & Eijffinger, Sylvester C.W. & Franco, Daniele, 2003. "Revisiting the stability and growth pact: grand design or internal adjustment?," Seminarios y Conferencias 6567, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
  5. ALISTAIR DIEPPE & KEITH KÜSTER & PETER McADAM, 2005. "Optimal Monetary Policy Rules for the Euro Area: An Analysis Using the Area Wide Model," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(3), pages 507-537, September.
  6. Barro, Robert J, 1981. "Output Effects of Government Purchases," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1086-1121, December.
  7. Galí, Jordi & Perotti, Roberto, 2003. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Integration in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 3933, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Andrew Hughes Hallett & Diana N. Weymark, 2005. "Independence Before Conservatism: Transparency, Politics and Central Bank Design," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 6(1), pages 1-21, February.
  9. 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 381-399, November.
  10. Francesco Saraceno & Paola Monperrus-Veroni, 2004. "A Simple Proposal for a "Debt-Sensitive Stability Pact"," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 73(3), pages 471-480.
  11. 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.
  12. Hughes Hallett, Andrew & Weymark, Diana N., 2004. "Independent monetary policies and social equity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 103-110, October.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1973. "Some International Evidence on Output-Inflation Tradeoffs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 326-334, June.
  16. Buti, Marco, 2003. "Revisiting the stability and growth pact: grand design or internal adjustment?," Sede de la CEPAL en Santiago (Estudios e Investigaciones) 34908, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
  17. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  18. Andrew Hallett & Nicola Viegi, 2002. "Inflation Targeting as a Coordination Device," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 341-362, October.
  19. Hughes Hallett, Andrew & Weymark, Diana, 2002. "Government Leadership and Central Bank Design," CEPR Discussion Papers 3395, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Dixit, Avinash, 2001. "Games of monetary and fiscal interactions in the EMU," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 589-613, May.
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