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Fiscal Policy in an Expectations Driven Liquidity Trap

  • Mertens, Karel
  • Ravn, Morten O

We examine the impact of fiscal policy interventions in an environment where the short term nominal interest rate is at the zero bound. In the basic New Keynesian model in which the monetary authority operates a Taylor rule, globally multiple equilibria arise, some of which display all the features of a liquidity trap. A loss in confidence can set the economy on a deflationary path that eventually prevents the monetary authority from adjusting the interest rate and can lead to potentially very large output drops. Contrary to a line of recent papers, we find that demand stimulating policies become less effective in a liquidity trap than in normal circumstances. The key reason is that demand stimulus leads agents to believe that things are even worse than they thought. In contrast, supply side policies, such as cuts in labor income taxes, lead to relative optimism and become more powerful.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7931.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7931
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  1. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2010. "When is the government spending multiplier large?," CQER Working Paper 2010-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  2. Evans, George W. & Guse, Eran & Honkapohja, Seppo, 2008. "Liquidity traps, learning and stagnation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1438-1463, November.
  3. Benhabib, Jess & Farmer, Roger E.A., 1999. "Indeterminacy and sunspots in macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 387-448 Elsevier.
  4. Cogan, John F. & Cwik, Tobias & Taylor, John B. & Wieland, Volker, 2009. "New Keynesian versus old Keynesian government spending multipliers," Working Paper Series 1090, European Central Bank.
  5. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2008. "Monetary Policy, Trend Inflation and the Great Moderation: An Alternative Interpretation," NBER Working Papers 14621, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Erceg, Christopher & Lindé, Jesper, 2010. "Is There a Fiscal Free Lunch in a Liquidity Trap?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7624, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Almunia, Miguel & Bénétrix, Agustín & Eichengreen, Barry & O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj & Rua, Gisela, 2009. "From Great Depression to Great Credit Crisis: Similarities, Differences and Lessons," CEPR Discussion Papers 7564, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Martin S. Feldstein, 2009. "Rethinking the Role of Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 14684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2008. "Five Facts about Prices: A Reevaluation of Menu Cost Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1415-1464, November.
  10. Olivier Blanchard & Giovanni Dell'Ariccia & Paolo Mauro, 2010. "Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(s1), pages 199-215, 09.
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