IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Fiscal Crisis Resolution: Taxation versus Inflation

  • Michael Kumhof

    (Stanford University)

This paper presents a model of fiscal and monetary policy that evaluates the tradeoff between higher distortionary labor taxation and higher inflation in the resolution of fiscal crises. Fiscal crises arise because of exogenous fiscal transfer spending shocks. Government debt is domestically held and nominal. Data are presented to show that such debt is now at least as important as external government debt in many key emerging markets, and that it is a very important item on the balance sheets of domestic financial intermediaries, despite the gradual disappearance of financial repression. An important reason is that government debt helps to alleviate informational asymmetries, especially in less developed financial markets. In the model government debt therefore enters the economy's intermediation technology. The key contribution of this mechanism is that it makes unanticipated inflation costly. Price level determination then becomes the result of an explicit government optimization problem over a tax distortion and an inflation distortion. Higher taxes have a distortionary effect on labor supply, but also a beneficial effect by lowering inflation and supporting a higher public debt stock that in turn supports intermediation and the capital stock. In such a model first period price level jumps generally do not contribute to the resolution of fiscal crises. Instead ongoing but modest inflation is used to levy seigniorage on debt. This gives rise to a fiscal theory of inflation whose transmission mechanism does not rely on base money seigniorage. It is found that a large contribution of inflation to the resolution of a fiscal crisis is only optimal when the fiscal shock is transitory, while a long lived shock is optimally financed mostly through taxes.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research in its series Working Papers with number 102004.

in new window

Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hkm:wpaper:102004
Contact details of provider: Postal: 55th Floor , Two International Finance Centre , 8 Finance Street , Central, Hong Kong
Phone: (852)2878 1978
Fax: (852)2878 7006
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. John H. Cochrane, 2000. "Money as Stock: Price Level Determination with no Money Demand," NBER Working Papers 7498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Arellano, Cristina & Heathcote, Jonathan, 2007. "Dollarization and Financial Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 6116, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Nigel Andrew Chalk & Richard Hemming, 2000. "Assessing Fiscal Sustainability in Theory and Practice," IMF Working Papers 00/81, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1988. "Servicing the Public Debt: The Role of Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 647-61, September.
  6. Matthew B. Canzoneri & Robert E. Cumby & Behzad T. Diba, 2001. "Is the Price Level Determined by the Needs of Fiscal Solvency?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1221-1238, December.
  7. Robert E. Lucas, Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1985. "Money and Interest in a Cash-in-Advance Economy," NBER Working Papers 1618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
  9. Albert Marcet & Thomas J. Sargent & Juha Seppala, 1996. "Optimal taxation without state-contingent debt," Economics Working Papers 170, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2001.
  10. John H. Cochrane, 1998. "A Frictionless View of U.S. Inflation," NBER Working Papers 6646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
  12. Narayana R. Kocherlakota & Christopher Phelan, 1999. "Explaining the fiscal theory of the price level," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 14-23.
  13. Benhabib, Jess & Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 1999. "Monetary Policy and Multiple Equilibria," CEPR Discussion Papers 2316, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1998. "Private and Public Supply of Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(1), pages 1-40, February.
  15. Jonathan Eaton & Raquel Fernandez, 1995. "Sovereign Debt," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 59, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  16. Buiter, Willem H., 1999. "The Fallacy of the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level," CEPR Discussion Papers 2205, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Michael Woodford, 1996. "Control of the Public Debt: A Requirement for Price Stability?," NBER Working Papers 5684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Marco Bassetto, 2002. "A Game-Theoretic View of the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2167-2195, November.
  19. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth & Savastano, Miguel, 2003. "Debt intolerance," MPRA Paper 13932, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  20. Mulligan, Casey B, 1997. "Scale Economies, the Value of Time, and the Demand for Money: Longitudinal Evidence from Firms," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(5), pages 1061-79, October.
  21. V. V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1991. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy: some recent results," Staff Report 147, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  22. Willem H. Buiter, 1998. "The Young Person's Guide to Neutrality, Price Level Indeterminacy, Interest Rate Pegs, and Fiscal Theories of the Price Level," NBER Working Papers 6396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Bansal, Ravi & Coleman, Wilbur John, II, 1996. "A Monetary Explanation of the Equity Premium, Term Premium, and Risk-Free Rate Puzzles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1135-71, December.
  24. Woodford, Michael, 2001. "Fiscal Requirements for Price Stability," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(3), pages 669-728, August.
  25. Cole, Harold L & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1998. "Models of Sovereign Debt: Partial versus General Reputations," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(1), pages 55-70, February.
  26. Fried, Joel & Howitt, Peter, 1983. "The Effects of Inflation on Real Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 968-80, December.
  27. Sims, Christopher A, 1994. "A Simple Model for Study of the Determination of the Price Level and the Interaction of Monetary and Fiscal Policy," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 381-99.
  28. Vincent Reinhart & Brian Sack, 2000. "The Economic Consequences of Disappearing Government Debt," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(2), pages 163-220.
  29. Johnson, Richard, 2003. "A comparison of the constant-tax rule and a standard fiscal reaction rule in the IMF's MULTIMOD model," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 25(6-7), pages 639-653, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hkm:wpaper:102004. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (HKIMR)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.