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Distortionary fiscal policy and monetary policy goals

  • Klaus Adam
  • Roberto M. Billi

We study interactions between monetary policy, which sets nominal interest rates, and fiscal policy, which levies distortionary income taxes to finance public goods, in a standard, sticky-price economy with monopolistic competition. Policymakers? inability to commit in advance to future policies gives rise to excessive inflation and excessive public spending, resulting in welfare losses equivalent to several percent of consumption each period. We show how appointing a conservative monetary authority, which dislikes inflation more than society does, can considerably reduce these welfare losses and that optimally the monetary authority is predominantly concerned about inflation. Full conservatism, i.e., exclusive concern about inflation, entirely eliminates the welfare losses from discretionary monetary and fiscal policymaking, provided monetary policy is determined after fiscal policy each period. Full conservatism, however, is severely suboptimal when monetary policy is determined simultaneously with fiscal policy or before fiscal policy each period.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in its series Research Working Paper with number RWP 10-10.

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Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedkrw:rwp10-10
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  1. Kenneth Rogoff, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-1189.
  2. Stefan Niemann, 2009. "Dynamic Monetary-Fiscal Interactions and the Role of Monetary Conservatism," Economics Discussion Papers 667, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  3. Javier Díaz-Giménez & Giorgia Giovanetti & Ramon Marimon & Pedro Teles, 2003. "Nominal Debt as a Burden on Monetary Policy," Working Papers 8, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  4. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2008. "Monetary conservatism and fiscal policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1376-1388, November.
  5. 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.
  6. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2002. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy Under Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 9220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Barro, Robert J & Gordon, David B, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 589-610, August.
  8. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  9. Walsh, Carl E, 1995. "Optimal Contracts for Central Bankers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 150-67, March.
  10. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 2001. "Markov Perfect Equilibrium: I. Observable Actions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 191-219, October.
  11. Adam, Klaus, 2010. "Government Debt and Optimal Monetary and Fiscal Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 8064, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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