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Dynamic Seigniorage Theory: An Exploration

  • Maurice Obstfeld

This paper shows that the optimal extraction of seigniorage implies a strong tendency for inflation to fall over time toward its socially optimal level. The point is made using a multi-period model in which (i) the government can finance deficits through bond issue or money creation, (ii) private-sector expectations are rational, and (iii) the government sets the inflation rate each period in a discretionary manner. One way to view the model is as a synthesis of the "tax-smoothing" theory of government deficits, which predicts that the inflation tax follows approximately a martingale, and of models of discretionary policy making, which predict (absent reputation effects) that inflation is likely to exceed its socially optimal level. Both predictions are modified when the two approaches to explaining inflation are merged. Reputation effects play no role in the analysis.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2869.

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Date of creation: Feb 1989
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Obstfeld, Maurice, 1997. "Dynamic Seigniorage Theory," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(03), pages 588-614, September.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2869
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  1. Brock, William A, 1974. "Money and Growth: The Case of Long Run Perfect Foresight," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 15(3), pages 750-77, October.
  2. J. Tirole & E. Maskin, 1982. "A Theory of Dynamic Oligopoly, I: Overview and Quantity Competition with Large-Fixed Costs," Working papers 320, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Herschel I. Grossman & John B. Van Huyck, 1984. "Seigniorage, Inflation, and Reputation," NBER Working Papers 1505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Auernheimer, Leonardo, 1974. "The Honest Government's Guide to the Revenue from the Creation of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(3), pages 598-606, May/June.
  5. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 1982. "Speculative Hyperinflations in Maximizing Models: Can We Rule Them Out?," NBER Working Papers 0855, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bohn, Henning, 1988. "Why do we have nominal government debt?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 127-140, January.
  7. Barsky, Robert B., 1987. "The Fisher hypothesis and the forecastability and persistence of inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 3-24, January.
  8. Kiguel, Miguel A & Liviatan, Nissan, 1988. "Inflationary Rigidities and Orthodox Stabilization Policies: Lessons from Latin America," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 2(3), pages 273-98, September.
  9. Cohen, Daniel & Michel, Philippe, 1988. "How Should Control Theory Be Used to Calculate a Time-Consistent Government Policy?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 263-74, April.
  10. Fischer, Stanley, 1980. "Dynamic inconsistency, cooperation and the benevolent dissembling government," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 93-107, May.
  11. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1986. "Principles of fiscal and monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 117-134, January.
  12. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1987. "The optimal collection of seigniorage : Theory and evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 327-341, September.
  13. Marcus Miller & Mark Salmon, 1985. "Policy Coordination and Dynamic Games," NBER Chapters, in: International Economic Policy Coordination, pages 184-227 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  15. V. V. Chari & Patrick J Kehoe, 1998. "Sustainable Plans," Levine's Working Paper Archive 600, David K. Levine.
  16. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  17. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1978. "Optimal seigniorage from money creation : An analysis in terms of the optimum balance of payments deficit problem," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 503-517, August.
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