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Monetary Policy Arithmetic: Some Recent Contributions

  • Bhattacharya, Joydeep
  • Haslag, Joseph

Sargent and Wallace (1981) study the feasibility of a bond-financed increase in government spending. In their "unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Sargent and Wallace show how using bonds to finance a permanent deficit today may necessitate faster money growth in the future, yielding higher inflation today. The logic behind this spectacular result is predicated on the satisfaction of one crucial condition: the real interest rate offered on bonds has to exceed the real growth rate of the economy. Joydeep Bhattacharya and Joseph Haslag review some recent contributions to the literature on the subject in light of the contentious nature of this stricture. The authors derive the unpleasant monetarist arithmetic result by employing a weaker set of necessary conditions than those Sargent-Wallace use. In addition, the authors consider the possibility of financing the deficit by changing reserve requirements instead of raising money growth rates. Interestingly, a pleasant version of the financing arithmetic emerges.

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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers Archive with number 10388.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 1999
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Economic and Financial Review, Third Quarter 1999,, pp. 26-36
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:10388
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Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070

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  1. Matthew B. Canzoneri & Robert E. Cumby & Behzad T. Diba, 1998. "Is the Price Level Determined by the Needs of Fiscal Solvency?," NBER Working Papers 6471, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bhattacharya, Joydeep & Guzman, Mark G. & Smith, Bruce D., 1998. "Some Even More Unpleasant Monetarist Arithmetic," Staff General Research Papers Archive 5084, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Michael R. Darby, 1984. "Some pleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr.
  4. Thomas M. Supel & Richard M. Todd, 1984. "Should currency be priced like cars?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr.
  5. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
  6. Freeman, Scott, 1987. "Reserve requirements and optimal seigniorage," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 307-314, March.
  7. Charles T. Carlstrom & Timothy S. Fuerst, 2000. "The fiscal theory of the price level," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q I, pages 22-32.
  8. Bhattacharya, Joydeep & Kudoh, N, 2002. "Tight Money Policies and Inflation Revisited," Staff General Research Papers Archive 5085, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  9. Andrew B. Abel, 1992. "Can the government roll over its debt forever?," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Nov, pages 3-18.
  10. Preston J. Miller & Thomas J. Sargent, 1984. "A reply to Darby," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr.
  11. Rao Aiyagari, S. & Gertler, Mark, 1985. "The backing of government bonds and monetarism," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 19-44, July.
  12. Marco Espinosa & Steven Russell, 1998. "Can a Policy of Higher Inflation Reduce Real Interests in the Long Run?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 92-103, February.
  13. Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467.
  14. Joseph H. Haslag & Joydeep Bhattacharya, 1999. "Seigniorage in a neoclassical economy: some computational results," Working Papers 9901, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
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