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Overcoming the zero bound on nominal interest rates with negative interest on currency : Gesell's solution

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  • Buiter, Willem H.

Abstract

An economy is in a liquidity trap when monetary policy cannot influence either real or nominal variables of interest. A necessary condition for this is that the short nominal interest rate is constrained by its lower bound, typically zero. The paper considers two small analytical models, one Old-Keynesian, the other New-Keynesian possessing equilibria where not only the short nominal interest rate, but nominal interest rates at all maturities can be stuck at their zero lower bound. When the authorities remove the zero nominal interest rate floor by adopting an augmented monetary rule that systematically keeps the nominal interest rate on base money (including currency) at or below the nominal interest rate on non-monetary instruments, the lower bound equilibria are eliminated, thus allowing an economic system to avoid the trap or to escape from it. This rule will involve paying negative interest on currency, that is, imposing a ‘carry tax’ on currency, an idea first promoted by Gesell. The administration costs associated with a currency carry tax must be set against the benefits of potentially lower shoe-leather costs and lower menu costs which are made possible by the its introduction. There are also output-gap avoidance benefits from eliminating the zero lower bound trap.

Suggested Citation

  • Buiter, Willem H., 2003. "Overcoming the zero bound on nominal interest rates with negative interest on currency : Gesell's solution," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 848, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:848
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/848/
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hondroyiannis, George & Swamy, P. A. V. B. & Tavlas, George S., 2000. "Is the Japanese economy in a liquidity trap?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 17-23, January.
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    3. Chadha, Jagjit S & Haldane, Andrew G & Janssen, Norbert G J, 1998. "Shoe-Leather Costs Reconsidered," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(447), pages 363-382, March.
    4. Bryant, Ralph C, 2000. "Comment on Overcoming the Zero Bound on Interest Rate Policy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(4), pages 1036-1050, November.
    5. Chan, K C, et al, 1992. " An Empirical Comparison of Alternative Models of the Short-Term Interest Rate," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(3), pages 1209-1227, July.
    6. Bennett T. McCallum, 2000. "Theoretical analysis regarding a zero lower bound on nominal interest rates," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 870-935.
    7. Arthur M. Okun, 1975. "Inflation: Its Mechanics and Welfare Costs," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 6(2), pages 351-402.
    8. Karl-Heinz Todter & Gerhard Ziebarth, 1997. "Price Stability vs. Low Inflation in Germany: An Analysis of Costs and Benefits," NBER Working Papers 6170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Buiter, Willem H., 1977. "`Crowding out' and the effectiveness of fiscal policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 309-328, June.
    10. Baumol, William J & Tobin, James, 1989. "The Optimal Cash Balance Proposition: Maurice Allais' Priority," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 1160-1162, September.
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    Keywords

    Liquidity trap; Gesell; stamp scrip; inflation targeting; multiple equilibria. JEL classification codes: B22; E41; E31; E32; E51; E52; E58; N12; N13; N14.;

    JEL classification:

    • B22 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Macroeconomics
    • E41 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Demand for Money
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-

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