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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. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
  2. Svensson, Lars, 1999. "How Should Monetary Policy Be Conducted in an Era of Price Stability," Seminar Papers 680, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
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  10. repec:nbr:nberre:0126 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Alexander L. Wolman, 1999. "Real Implications of the Zero Bound on Nominal Interest Rates," Computing in Economics and Finance 1999 1152, Society for Computational Economics.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Jess Benhabib & Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2000. "Avoiding Liquidity Traps," Departmental Working Papers 199925, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  19. Taylor, John B, 1980. "Aggregate Dynamics and Staggered Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 1-23, February.
  20. 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.
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