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Government Debt and Optimal Monetary and Fiscal Policy

  • Adam, Klaus

How do different levels of government debt affect the optimal conduct of monetary and fiscal policies? And what do these optimal policies imply for the evolution of government debt over time? To provide an answer, this paper studies a standard monetary policy model with nominal rigidities and monopolistic competition and adds to it a fiscal authority that issues nominal non-state contingent debt, levies distortionary labor income taxes and determines the level of public goods provision. Higher government debt levels make it optimal to reduce public spending, so as to dampen the adverse incentive effects of distortionary taxes, but also strongly influence the optimal stabilization response following technology shocks. In particular, higher debt levels give rise to larger risks to the fiscal budget and to tax rates. This makes it optimal to reduce government debt over time. The optimal speed of debt reduction is missed when using first order approximations to optimal policies, but is shown to be quantitatively significant in a second order approximation, especially when technology movements are largely unpredictable in nature.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8064.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8064
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  1. Leith, Campbell & Wren-Lewis, Simon, 2012. "Fiscal Sustainability in a New Keynesian Model," SIRE Discussion Papers 2012-84, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  2. Sbordone, A.M., 1998. "Prices and Unit Labor Costs: a New Test of Price Stickiness," Papers 653, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  3. Giorgia Giovannetti & Ramon Marimon & Pedro Teles, 2000. "Nominal Debt as a Burden to Monetary Policy," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1387, Econometric Society.
  4. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2008. "Monetary conservatism and fiscal policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1376-1388, November.
  6. Klaus Adam & Roberto M. Billi, 2005. "Optimal monetary policy under commitment with a zero bound on nominal interest rates," Research Working Paper RWP 05-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  7. Rotemberg, Julio J, 1982. "Sticky Prices in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1187-1211, December.
  8. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2002. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy Under Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 9220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Roberto M. Billi & Klaus Adam, 2010. "Distortionary fiscal policy and monetary policy goals," 2010 Meeting Papers 1089, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Paul Gomme & Paul Klein, 2009. "Second-order approximation of dynamic models without the use of tensors," Working Papers 09004, Concordia University, Department of Economics, revised 28 Apr 2010.
  11. Campbell Leith & Ioana Moldovan & Raffaele Rossi, 2009. "Monetary and fiscal policy under deep habits," Working Papers 2009_32, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  12. V. V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1991. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy: some recent results," Staff Report 147, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. Woodford, Michael, 1997. "Doing Without Money: Controlling Inflation in a Post-Monetary World," Seminar Papers 632, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  14. Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 1996. "Optimal taxation without state-contingent debt," Economics Working Papers 170, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2001.
  15. Leeper, Eric M., 1991. "Equilibria under 'active' and 'passive' monetary and fiscal policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 129-147, February.
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