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The Liquidity Trap and the Pigou Effect: A Dynamic Analysis with Rational Expectations


  • Bennett T. McCallum


A Keynesian idea of considerable historical importance is that, in the presence of a liquidity trap, a competitive economy may lack--despite price flexibility--automatic market mechanisms that tend to eliminate excess supplies of labor. The standard classical counterargument, which relies upon the Pigou effect, has typically been conducted in a comparative-static framework. But, as James Tobin has recently emphasized, the more relevant issue concerns the dynamic response (in "real time") of an economy that has been shocked away from full employment. The present paper develops a dynamic analysis, in a rather standard model, under the assumption that expectations are formed rationally. The analysis permits examination of Tobin's suggestion that, because of expectational effects, such an economy could be unstable. Also considered is Martin J. Bailey's conjecture that, in the absence of a stock Pigou effect, Keynesian problems could be eliminated by expectational influences on disposable income.

Suggested Citation

  • Bennett T. McCallum, 1982. "The Liquidity Trap and the Pigou Effect: A Dynamic Analysis with Rational Expectations," NBER Working Papers 0894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0894
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kaufman, Herbert M & Lombra, Raymond E, 1980. "The Demand for Excess Reserves, Liability Management, and the Money Supply Process," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(4), pages 555-566, October.
    2. Kareken, John H & Muench, Thomas & Wallace, Neil, 1973. "Optimal Open Market Strategy: The Use of Information Variables," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(1), pages 156-172, March.
    3. William Poole & Charles Lieberman, 1972. "Improving Monetary Control," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 3(2), pages 293-342.
    4. Charles Sivesind & Kevin Hurley, 1980. "Choosing an Operating Target for Monetary Policy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(1), pages 199-203.
    5. Axilrod, Stephen H & Lindsey, David E, 1981. "Federal Reserve System Implementation of Monetary Policy: Analytical Foundations of the New Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 246-252, May.
    6. Mussa, Michael, 1981. "Sticky Prices and Disequilibrium Adjustment in a Rational Model of the Inflationary Process," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 1020-1027, December.
    7. Sargent, Thomas J & Wallace, Neil, 1975. ""Rational" Expectations, the Optimal Monetary Instrument, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 241-254, April.
    8. Stephen F. LeRoy & David E. Lindsey, 1978. "Determining the monetary instrument: a diagrammatic exposition," Special Studies Papers 103, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    9. LeRoy, Stephen F & Lindsey, David E, 1978. "Determining the Monetary Instrument: A Diagrammatic Exposition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(5), pages 929-934, December.
    10. William Poole, 1970. "Optimal Choice of Monetary Policy Instruments in a Simple Stochastic Macro Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(2), pages 197-216.
    11. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1973. "Some International Evidence on Output-Inflation Tradeoffs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 326-334, June.
    12. Albert E. Burger, 1972. "Money stock control," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Oct, pages 10-18.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bennett T. McCallum, 1988. "The Role of Demand Management in the Maintenance of Full Employment," NBER Working Papers 2520, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. C.A. Ullersma, 2001. "The Zero Lower Bound on Nominal Interest Rates and Monetary Policy Effectiveness: a Survey," MEB Series (discontinued) 2001-9, Netherlands Central Bank, Monetary and Economic Policy Department.

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