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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. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Schmitt-Grohe, Stephanie & Uribe, Martin, 2004. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy under sticky prices," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 198-230, February.
  3. Ramon Marimon & Javier Díaz-Giménez & Giorgia Giovannetti & Pedro Teles, 2007. "Nominal Debt as a Burden on Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 13677, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Chari, V V & Christiano, Lawrence J & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1991. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy: Some Recent Results," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 519-39, August.
  5. Campbell Leith & Ioana Moldovan & Raffaele Rossi, 2009. " Monetary and Fiscal Policy under Deep Habits," CDMA Conference Paper Series 0905, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
  6. Argia M. Sbordone, 2001. "Prices and Unit Labor Costs: A New Test of Price Stickiness," Departmental Working Papers 199822, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  7. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2004. "Optimal monetary policy under commitment with a zero bound on nominal interest rates," Working Paper Series 0377, European Central Bank.
  8. S. Rao Aiyagari & Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 2002. "Optimal Taxation without State-Contingent Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1220-1254, December.
  9. Michael Woodford, 1997. "Doing Without Money: Controlling Inflation in a Post-Monetary World," NBER Working Papers 6188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2006. "Monetary conservatism and fiscal policy," Working Paper Series 0663, European Central Bank.
  11. Simon Wren-Lewis & Campbell Leith, 2007. "Fiscal Sustainability in a New Keynesian Model," Economics Series Working Papers 310, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  12. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2013. "Distortionary Fiscal Policy and Monetary Policy Goals," Working Paper Series 278, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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