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Monetary Financing in the Euro Area: A Free Lunch?

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  • Silke Tober

Abstract

Two recent proposals for overcoming the euro area crisis make the case for monetary financing of the public sector. Watt (2015) proposes that the ECB finances public investment directly, Pâris and Wyplosz (2014) contend that public debt may be effectively restructured by burying parts of it in the balance sheet of the Eurosystem. Both proposals place the ECB at the center of matters generally considered to be fiscal in order to circumvent existing fiscal and political constraints. This paper argues that neither monetary debt retirement nor monetary financing of EU investment are a free lunch. Both proposals fudge the line between monetary and fiscal policy thereby ignoring valid reasons for separating these two macroeconomic policy areas. All monetary policy measures impact on government finances; whether monetary policy actions cross the fiscal policy line, however, depends primarily on the underlying motivation of the action. In the case of the two proposals the motivation is unambiguously fiscal.

Suggested Citation

  • Silke Tober, 2015. "Monetary Financing in the Euro Area: A Free Lunch?," IMK Working Paper 152-2015, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:imk:wpaper:152-2015
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    1. Vergote, Olivier & Studener, Werner & Efthymiadis, Ioannis & Merriman, Niall, 2010. "Main drivers of the ECB financial accounts and ECB financial strength over the first 11 years," Occasional Paper Series 111, European Central Bank.
    2. Artis, Michael J & Mizen, Paul & Kontolemis, Zenon, 1998. "Inflation Targeting: What Can the ECB Learn from the Recent Experience of the Bank of England?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(451), pages 1810-1825, November.
    3. Camille Logeay & Silke Tober, 2006. "Hysteresis And The Nairu In The Euro Area," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 53(4), pages 409-429, September.
    4. Carmelo Pierpaolo Parello & Vincenzo Visco, 2012. "The European Redemption Fund: A Comparison of Two Proposals," Politica economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 3, pages 273-306.
    5. Vergote, Olivier & Studener, Werner & Efthymiadis, Ioannis & Merriman, Niall, 2010. "Main drivers of the ECB financial accounts and ECB financial strength over the first 11 years," Occasional Paper Series 111, European Central Bank.
    6. Andrew Watt, 2015. "Quantitative easing with bite: a proposal for conditional overt monetary financing of public investment," IMK Working Paper 148-2015, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    7. repec:pra:mprapa:42873 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Sebastian Gechert & Katja Rietzler & Silke Tober, 2016. "The European Commission's new NAIRU: Does it deliver?," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(1), pages 6-10, January.
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