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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. Gomme, Paul & Klein, Paul, 2011. "Second-order approximation of dynamic models without the use of tensors," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 604-615, April.
  2. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2006. "Optimal Monetary Policy under Commitment with a Zero Bound on Nominal Interest Rates," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(7), pages 1877-1905, October.
  3. Leith, Campbell & Moldovan, Ioana & Rossi, Raffaele, 2009. "Monetary and Fiscal Policy under Deep Habits," SIRE Discussion Papers 2009-47, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
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  6. 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.
  7. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M, 2010. "Distortionary fiscal policy and monetary policy goals," CEPR Discussion Papers 7741, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  9. Woodford, Michael, 1997. "Doing Without Money: Controlling Inflation in a Post-Monetary World," Seminar Papers 632, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  10. 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).
  11. 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.
  12. Sbordone, Argia M., 2002. "Prices and unit labor costs: a new test of price stickiness," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 265-292, March.
  13. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2001. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy Under Sticky Prices," Departmental Working Papers 200105, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  14. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M, 2006. "Monetary Conservatism and Fiscal Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 5740, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  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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