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On the Relevance or Irrelevance of Public Financial Policy: Indexation,Price Rigidities and Optimal Monetary Policy

Listed author(s):
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz

This paper is concerned with delineating conditions under which public financial policies have no real and/or price effects. In the absence of intergenerational distribution effects, public financial policy is irrelevant:an increase in government debt (whether indexed or not), an exchange of anindexed bond for a non-indexed bond, or an exchange of a short term bond fora long term bond has neither real nor financial effects. We also describe changes in financial policy in which the supply of bonds are increased and the nominal interest rate increases, which have an effect on the rate of inflation, but no real effects. We examine the implications of price and wage rigidities and the existence of a non-interest bearing financial asset used for transactions purposes for the validity of these irrelevance theorems.In general, public financial policies have effects on intergenerational distribution; alternative financial policies have implications for the pattern of capital accumulation (an effect which was the center of the literature on money and growth) and on the sharing of risks among members of different generations. We examine the consequences of three alternative financial policies,a fixed supply of financial assets, a fixed price level, and a fixed real supply of government indebtedness; under some plausible conditions, the latter policy may provide for the least intergenerational variability inconsumption.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1106.

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Date of creation: Apr 1983
Publication status: published as Stiglitz, Joseph E. "On the Relevance or Irrelevance of Public Financial Policy: Indexation, Price Rigidities, and Optimal Monetary Policies." Inflation, Debt, and Indexation, edited by Rudiger Dornbusch and Mario Henrique Simonsen, pp. 183-222. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, (1983).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1106
Note: PE
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  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. Wallace, Neil, 1981. "A Modigliani-Miller Theorem for Open-Market Operations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 267-274, June.
  5. Fischer, Stanley, 1979. "Anticipations and the Nonneutrality of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(2), pages 225-252, April.
  6. 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.
  7. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
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