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How to Fight Deflation in a Liquidity Trap; Committing to Being Irresponsible

  • Gauti B. Eggertsson

I model deflation, at zero nominal interest rate, in a microfounded general equilibrium model. I show that deflation can be analyzed as a credibility problem if the government has only one policy instrument, money supply carried out by means of open market operations in short-term bonds, and cannot commit to future policies. I propose several policies to solve the credibility problem. They involve printing money or nominal debt and either (1) cutting taxes, (2) buying real assets such as stocks, or (3) purchasing foreign exchange. The government credibly "commits to being irresponsible" by using these policy instruments. It commits to higher money supply in the future so that the private sector expects inflation instead of deflation. This is optimal, since it curbs deflation and increases output by lowering the real rate of return.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 03/64.

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Length: 42
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:03/64
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  1. Reifschneider, David & Willams, John C, 2000. "Three Lessons for Monetary Policy in a Low-Inflation Era," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(4), pages 936-66, November.
  2. Michael Woodford, 2001. "Fiscal Requirements for Price Stability," NBER Working Papers 8072, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lars E.O. Svensson, 2000. "How Should Monetary Policy be Conducted in an Era of Price Stability?," NBER Working Papers 7516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
  5. Jess Benhabib & Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2000. "Avoiding Liquidity Traps," Departmental Working Papers 199925, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  6. Alexander L. Wolman, 2003. "Real implications of the zero bound on nominal interest rates," Working Paper 03-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
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  8. Clouse James & Henderson Dale & Orphanides Athanasios & Small David H. & Tinsley P.A., 2003. "Monetary Policy When the Nominal Short-Term Interest Rate is Zero," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-65, September.
  9. Summers, Lawrence, 1991. "How Should Long-Term Monetary Policy Be Determined? Panel Discussion," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 625-31, August.
  10. Taylor, John B, 1980. "Aggregate Dynamics and Staggered Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 1-23, February.
  11. Michael Woodford, 1999. "Commentary : how should monetary policy be conducted in an era of price stability?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 277-316.
  12. David Reifschneider & John C. Williams, 1999. "Three lessons for monetary policy in a low inflation era," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-44, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. 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.
  14. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  15. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
  16. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1997. "Dynamic Seigniorage Theory," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(03), pages 588-614, September.
  17. Bennett T. McCallum, 2000. "Theoretical Analysis Regarding a Zero Lower Bound on Nominal Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 7677, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Leeper, Eric M., 1991. "Equilibria under 'active' and 'passive' monetary and fiscal policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 129-147, February.
  19. 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.
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