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Discretionary policy in a monetary union with sovereign debt

  • Campbell Leith
  • Simon Wren-Lewis

This paper examines the interactions between multiple national fiscal policy- makers and a single monetary policy maker in response to shocks to govern- ment debt in some or all of the countries of a monetary union. We assume that national governments respond to excess debt in an optimal manner, but that they do not have access to a commitment technology. This implies that national fiscal policy gradually reduces debt: the lack of a commitment technology pre- cludes a random walk in steady state debt, but the need to maintain national competitiveness avoids excessively rapid debt reduction. If the central bank can commit, it adjusts its policies only slightly in response to higher debt, allowing national fiscal policy to undertake most of the adjustment. However if it cannot commit, then optimal monetary policy involves using interest rates to rapidly reduce debt, with significant welfare costs. We show that in these circumstances the central bank would do better to ignore national fiscal policies in formulating its policy.

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Paper provided by Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow in its series Working Papers with number 2010_23.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gla:glaewp:2010_23
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  1. Javier Díaz-Giménez & Giorgia Giovannetti & Ramon Marimon & Pedro Teles, 2004. "Nominal debt as a burden on monetary policy," Working Paper Series WP-04-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Jordi Galí & Tommaso Monacelli, 2003. "Monetary Policy and Exchange Rate Volatility in a Small Open Economy," Working Papers 11, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  3. Simon Wren-Lewis & Fabian Eser, 2009. "When is Monetary Policy All we Need?," Economics Series Working Papers 430, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. 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).
  5. Ferrero, Andrea, 2005. "Fiscal and monetary rules for a currency union," Working Paper Series 0502, European Central Bank.
  6. Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2004. "Optimal Monetary and Fiscal Policy: A Linear-Quadratic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18, pages 271-364 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Smets, Frank & Wouters, Rafael, 2004. "Comparing Shocks and Frictions in US and Euro Area Business Cycles: A Bayesian DSGE Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 4750, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Canzoneri, Matthew B & Cumby, Robert E & Diba, Behzad T, 2001. "Fiscal Discipline and Exchange Rate Systems," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 667-90, October.
  9. Martin Ellison & Neil Rankin, 2005. " Optimal Monetary Policy When Lump-Sum Taxes Are Unavailable: A Reconsideration of the Outcomes under Commitment and Discretion," CDMA Conference Paper Series 0501, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
  10. 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.
  11. Söderlind, Paul, 1998. "Solution and Estimation of RE Macromodels with Optimal Policy," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 256, Stockholm School of Economics.
  12. Tatiana Kirsanova & Campbell Leith & Simon Wren-Lewis, 2006. "Should Central Banks Target Consumer Prices or the Exchange Rate?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(512), pages F208-F231, 06.
  13. Campbell Leith & Jim Malley, 2002. "Estimated General Equilibrium Models for the Evaluation of Monetary Policy in the US and Europe," CESifo Working Paper Series 699, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Tatiana Kirsanova & Campbell Leith & Simon Wren-Lewis, 2009. "Monetary and Fiscal Policy Interaction: The Current Consensus Assignment in the Light of Recent Developments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(541), pages F482-F496, November.
  15. Gilles Oudiz & Jeffrey Sachs, 1985. "International Policy Coordination in Dynamic Macroeconomic Models," NBER Chapters, in: International Economic Policy Coordination, pages 274-330 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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