IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

On the Relevance or Irrelevance of Public Financial Policy

Listed author(s):
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz

This paper establishes conditions under which public financial policyhas neither real nor inflationary effects; under which it has inflationary effects, but not real effects; and under which it has real effects. An increase in government debt (keeping real expenditures fixed), accompanied by a decrease in lump sum taxes has neither inflationary nor real effects (even in astochastic environment) provided there are no redistribution effects: the increase in supply of government bonds gives rise to an exactly offsetting increase in demand. An increase in the interest rate paid on government debt will be associated with an increase in the rate of inflation, but there will be no real effects. A change in financial policy which preserves the mean rate of return on bonds has no real effects if individuals are risk neutral and changes in the level of debt are offset by changes in lump sum taxes/subsidies for the owners of bonds. Except in these special cases, changes in public financial policy will always have real effects.The second part of the paper establishes that the optimal intertemporal risk redistribution scheme can be implemented through financial policies which entail constant price levels. This result is established in the context of a life cycle model with homogeneous individuals. It is shown, furthermore,that only a single financial instrument is required to implement the optimal policy; additional financial instruments are redundant. This redundancy result does not obtain, however, with heterogeneous populations if there are restrictions on the ability of the government to impose differential lump sum taxes on different groups.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1057.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 1983
Publication status: published as Arrow, Kenneth J. and Michael J. Boskin (eds.) The economics of public debt: Proceedings of a conference held by the International Economic Association at Stanford, California. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1057
Note: PE
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  2. David Cass & Menahem E. Yaari, 1965. "Individual Saving, Aggregate Capital Accumulation, and Efficient Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 198, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  3. John Bryant & Neil Wallace, 1980. "A suggestion for further simplifying the theory of money," Staff Report 62, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1969. "A Re-Examination of the Modigliani-Miller Theorem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(5), pages 784-793, December.
  5. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1974. "On the Irrelevance of Corporate Financial Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 851-866, December.
  6. Fischer, Stanley, 1979. "Anticipations and the Nonneutrality of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(2), pages 225-252, April.
  7. K. Shell & M. Sidrauski & J. E. Stiglitz, 1969. "Capital Gains, Income, and Saving," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(1), pages 15-26.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1057. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.