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Is it is or is it Ain't my Obligation? Regional Debt in Monetary Unions


  • Russell Cooper
  • Hubert Kempf
  • Dan Peled


This paper studies the implications of the circulation of interest bearing regional debt in a monetary union. Does the circulation of this debt have the same monetary implications as the printing of money by a central government? Or are the obligations of this debt simply backed by future taxation with no inflationary consequences? We argue here that both outcomes can arise in equilibrium. In the model economy we consider there are multiple equilibria which reflect the perceptions of agents regarding the manner in which the debt obligations will be met. In one equilibrium, termed Ricardian, the future obligations are met with taxation by a regional government while in the other, termed Monetization, the central bank is induced to print money to finance the region's obligations. The multiplicity of equilibria reflects a commitment problem of the central bank. A key indicator of the selected equilibrium is the distribution of the holdings of the regional debt. We use the model to assess the impact of policy measures, such as fiscal restrictions, within a monetary union.

Suggested Citation

  • Russell Cooper & Hubert Kempf & Dan Peled, 2004. "Is it is or is it Ain't my Obligation? Regional Debt in Monetary Unions," NBER Working Papers 10239, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10239
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Russell Cooper & Hubert Kempf, 2000. "Designing Stabilization Policy in a Monetary Union," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0529, Econometric Society.
    2. Chari, V.V. & Kehoe, Patrick J., 2007. "On the need for fiscal constraints in a monetary union," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2399-2408, November.
    3. Neil Bruce & Michael Waldman, 1990. "The Rotten-Kid Theorem Meets the Samaritan's Dilemma," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 155-165.
    4. Lindbeck, Assar & Weibull, Jorgen W, 1988. "Altruism and Time Consistency: The Economics of Fait Accompli," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1165-1182, December.
    5. Smith, Bruce D, 1994. "Efficiency and Determinacy of Equilibrium under Inflation Targeting," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 4(3), pages 327-344.
    6. Bergstrom, Theodore C, 1989. "A Fresh Look at the Rotten Kid Theorem--and Other Household Mysteries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1138-1159, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hubert KEMPF, 2006. "The Constitutional Treaty of the EU and the institutional framework," Departmental Working Papers 2006-05, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy

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