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Seigniorage

  • Willem H. Buiter

In this paper I analyse four different but related concepts, each of which highlights some aspect of the way in which the state acquires command over real resources through its ability to issue fiat money. They are (1) seigniorage (the change in the monetary base), (2) Central Bank revenue (the interest bill saved by the authorities on the outstanding stock of base money liabilities), (3) the inflation tax (the reduction in the real value of the stock of base money due to inflation and (4) the operating profits of the central bank, or the taxes paid by the Central Bank to the Treasury. To understand the relationship between these four concepts, an explicitly intertemporal approach is required, which focuses on the present discounted value of the current and future resource transfers between the private sector and the state. Furthermore, when the Central Bank is operationally independent, it is essential to decompose the familiar consolidated ‘government budget constraint’ and consolidated ‘government intertemporal budget constraint’ into the separate accounts and budget constraints of the Central Bank and the Treasury. Only by doing this can we appreciate the financial constraints on the Central Bank’s ability to pursue and achieve an inflation target, and the importance of cooperation and coordination between the Treasury and the Central Bank when faced with financial sector crises involving the need for long-term recapitalisation or when confronted with the need to mimic Milton Friedman’s helicopter drop of money in an economy faced with a liquidity trap.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/19733/
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 19733.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19733
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  1. Stephen J Redding & Peter K Schott & Andrew B Bernard, 2007. "Multi-product Firms and Trade Liberalization," 2007 Meeting Papers 44, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Marvin Goodfriend, 2000. "Overcoming the zero bound on interest rate policy," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 1007-1057.
  3. Wilem H. Buiter, 2005. "Overcoming the Zero Bound on Nominal Interest Rates: Gesell's Currency Carry Tax vs. Eisler's arallel Virtual Currency," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d05-96, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  4. Kiguel, M.A., 1993. "Seigniorage and Inflation: the Case of Argentina," Papers 9312, Southern California - Department of Economics.
  5. Anand, Ritu & van Wijnbergen, Sweder, 1989. "Inflation and the Financing of Government Expenditure: An Introductory Analysis with an Application to Turkey," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 3(1), pages 17-38, January.
  6. Easterly, William & Mauro, Paolo & Schmidt-Hebbel, Klaus, 1992. "Money demand and seignorage - maximizing inflation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1049, The World Bank.
  7. L. Rachel Ngai & Roberto M. Samaniego, 2006. "An R&D-Based Model of Multi-Sector Growth," CEP Discussion Papers dp0762, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  8. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
  9. Thomas J. Sargent, 1981. "The ends of four big inflations," Working Papers 158, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  10. Buiter, Willem H., 2004. "Helicopter Money: Irredeemable Fiat Money and the Liquidity Trap," CEPR Discussion Papers 4202, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Willem H. Buiter, 2004. "Two Naked Emperors? Concerns about the Stability & Growth Pact and Second Thoughts about Central Bank Independence," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 25(3), pages 249-277, September.
  12. Willem H. Buiter, 2005. "New Developments in Monetary Economics: Two ghosts, Two Eccentricities, a Fallacy, a Mirage and a Mythos," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages C1-C31, 03.
  13. Buiter, Willem H., 2003. "Two Naked Emperors? Concerns about the Stability and Growth Pact and Second Thoughts About Central Bank Independence," CEPR Discussion Papers 4001, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. King, Robert G. & Plosser, Charles I., 1985. "Money, deficits, and inflation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 147-195, January.
  15. Willem H. Buiter & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 2003. "Overcoming the zero bound on nominal interest rates with negative interest on currency: gesell's solution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 723-746, October.
  16. Rudiger Dornbusch & Stanley Fischer, 1986. "Stopping hyperinflations past and present," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 1-47, March.
  17. Willem H. Buiter, 1990. "Principles of Budgetary and Financial Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262524139, June.
  18. Flandreau, Marc, 2007. "Pillars of Globalization: A history of monetary policy targets, 1797-1997," CEPR Discussion Papers 6252, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Friedman, Milton, 1971. "Government Revenue from Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 846-56, July-Aug..
  20. M. Fase, 2005. "On Economics and Religion," De Economist, Springer, vol. 153(1), pages 85-106, December.
  21. Willem Buiter, 2005. "Overcoming the zero bound on nominal interest rates: Gesell’s currency carry tax vs. Eisler’s parallel virtual currency," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 189-200, November.
  22. Eid, Jean & Overman, Henry G. & Puga, Diego & Turner, Matthew A., 2008. "Fat city: Questioning the relationship between urban sprawl and obesity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 385-404, March.
  23. James Tobin & Willem H. Buiter, 1974. "Long Run Effects of Fiscal and Monetary Policy on Aggregate Demand," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 384, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  24. Blinder, Alan S. & Solow, Robert M., 1973. "Does fiscal policy matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 319-337.
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