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Managing a Liquidity Trap: Monetary and Fiscal Policy

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  • Ivan Werning

Abstract

I study monetary and fiscal policy in liquidity trap scenarios, where the zero bound on the nominal interest rate is binding. I work with a continuous-time version of the standard New Keynesian model. Without commitment, the economy suffers from deflation and depressed output. I show that, surprisingly, both are exacerbated with greater price flexibility. I examine monetary and fiscal policies that maximize utility for the agent in the model and refer to these as optimal throughout the paper. I find that the optimal interest rate is set to zero past the liquidity trap and jumps discretely up upon exit. Inflation may be positive throughout, so the absence of deflation is not evidence against a liquidity trap. Output, on the other hand, always starts below its efficient level and rises above it. I then study fiscal policy and show that, regardless of parameters that govern the value of "fiscal multipliers" during normal or liquidity trap times, at the start of a liquidity trap optimal spending is above its natural level. However, it declines over time and goes below its natural level. I propose a decomposition of spending according to "opportunistic" and "stimulus" motives. The former is defined as the level of government purchases that is optimal from a static, cost-benefit standpoint, taking into account that, due to slack resources, shadow costs may be lower during a slump; the latter measures deviations from the former. I show that stimulus spending may be zero throughout, or switch signs, depending on parameters. Finally, I consider the hybrid where monetary policy is discretionary, but fiscal policy has commitment. In this case, stimulus spending is typically positive and increasing throughout the trap.

Suggested Citation

  • Ivan Werning, 2011. "Managing a Liquidity Trap: Monetary and Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 17344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17344
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2006. "Optimal Monetary Policy under Commitment with a Zero Bound on Nominal Interest Rates," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(7), pages 1877-1905, October.
    2. Mark Gertler & Jordi Gali & Richard Clarida, 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
    3. Lawrence Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2011. "When Is the Government Spending Multiplier Large?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(1), pages 78-121.
    4. Jung, Taehun & Teranishi, Yuki & Watanabe, Tsutomu, 2005. "Optimal Monetary Policy at the Zero-Interest-Rate Bound," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(5), pages 813-835, October.
    5. Olivier Blanchard & Giovanni Dell'Ariccia & Paolo Mauro, 2010. "Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(s1), pages 199-215, September.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. La trappe à sûreté
      by ? in D'un champ l'autre on 2014-02-25 05:59:00
    2. Comment modéliser la stagnation séculaire ?
      by ? in D'un champ l'autre on 2014-10-29 23:01:00
    3. Low Real Interest Rates and Monetary Policy
      by Stephen Williamson in Stephen Williamson: New Monetarist Economics on 2017-03-30 02:41:00
    4. The Zero Lower Bound and Monetary Policy
      by Stephen Williamson in Stephen Williamson: New Monetarist Economics on 2017-04-14 03:34:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Burgert, Matthias & Schmidt, Sebastian, 2014. "Dealing with a liquidity trap when government debt matters: Optimal time-consistent monetary and fiscal policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 282-299.
    2. Gavin, William T. & Keen, Benjamin D. & Richter, Alexander & Throckmorton, Nathaniel, 2013. "The stimulative effect of forward guidance," Working Papers 2013-38, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 30 Apr 2014.
    3. Luca Fornaro & Gianluca Benigno, 2015. "Stagnation Traps," 2015 Meeting Papers 810, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Boneva, Lena & Harrison, Richard & Waldron, Matt, 2015. "Threshold-based forward guidance: hedging the zero bound," Bank of England working papers 561, Bank of England.
    5. repec:bla:jecsur:v:31:y:2017:i:3:p:678-711 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Andolfatto, David & Williamson, Stephen, 2015. "Scarcity of safe assets, inflation, and the policy trap," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 70-92.
    7. Carlstrom, Charles T. & Fuerst, Timothy S. & Paustian, Matthias, 2015. "Inflation and output in New Keynesian models with a transient interest rate peg," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 230-243.
    8. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde & Pablo Guerrón-Quintana & Juan F Rubio-Ramírez, 2014. "Supply-Side Policies and the Zero Lower Bound," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 62(2), pages 248-260, June.
    9. Gavin, William T. & Keen, Benjamin D. & Richter, Alexander W. & Throckmorton, Nathaniel A., 2015. "The zero lower bound, the dual mandate, and unconventional dynamics," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 14-38.
    10. repec:eee:dyncon:v:81:y:2017:i:c:p:115-139 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Richhild Moessner & David-Jan Jansen & Jakob de Haan, 2017. "Communication About Future Policy Rates In Theory And Practice: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(3), pages 678-711, July.
    12. Ngo, Phuong V., 2014. "Optimal discretionary monetary policy in a micro-founded model with a zero lower bound on nominal interest rate," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 44-65.
    13. Pablo Ottonello & Ignacio Presno & Javier Bianchi, 2017. "Fiscal Policy, Sovereign Risk, and Unemployment," 2017 Meeting Papers 1382, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    14. Chiara Fratto & Harald Uhlig, 2014. "Accounting for Post-Crisis Inflation and Employment: A Retro Analysis," NBER Working Papers 20707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:4:p:1593-1624 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Boneva, Lena Mareen & Braun, R. Anton & Waki, Yuichiro, 2016. "Some unpleasant properties of loglinearized solutions when the nominal rate is zero," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 216-232.
    17. Ernst, Ekkehard & Semmler, Willi & Haider, Alexander, 2017. "Debt-deflation, financial market stress and regime change – Evidence from Europe using MRVAR," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 115-139.
    18. Ngo, Phuong V., 2015. "Household leverage, housing markets, and macroeconomic fluctuations," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 191-207.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies

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