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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. Galí, Jordi & Perotti, Roberto, 2003. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Integration in Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 3933, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Dixit, Avinash, 2001. "Games of monetary and fiscal interactions in the EMU," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 589-613, May.
  3. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  4. Hughes Hallett, Andrew & Weymark, Diana N., 2004. "Independent monetary policies and social equity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 103-110, October.
  5. 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.
  6. Francesco Saraceno & Paola Monperrus-Veroni, 2004. "A Simple Proposal for a 'Debt-Sensitive Stability Pact'," Macroeconomics 0406001, EconWPA.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Andrew Hallett & Nicola Viegi, 2002. "Inflation Targeting as a Coordination Device," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 341-362, October.
  10. Barro, Robert J., 1981. "Output Effects of Government Purchases," Scholarly Articles 3451294, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. 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).
  12. Avinash Dixit & Luisa Lambertini, 2003. "Interactions of Commitment and Discretion in Monetary and Fiscal Policies," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 575, Boston College Department of Economics.
  13. 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, 02.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Jordi GalÌ & Roberto Perotti, 2003. "Fiscal policy and monetary integration in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 18(37), pages 533-572, October.
  17. 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, 09.
  18. 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).
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
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