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Fiscal Sustainability in a New Keynesian Model

  • Simon Wren-Lewis
  • Campbell Leith

Most recent work deriving optimal monetary policy utilising New Neo-Classical Synthesis (NNCS) models abstract from the impact of monetary policy on the government`s finances, by assuming that any change in the government`s budget can be financed through lump sum taxes. In this paper, we assume that the government does not have access to such taxes to satisfy its intertemporal budget constraint in the face of shocks. We then consider optimal monetary and fiscal policies under discretion and commitment in the face of technology, preference and cost-push shocks. We confirm that the optimal precommitment policy implies a random walk in the steady-state level of debt. We also find that the time-inconsistency in the optimal precommitment policy is such that governments are tempted, given inflationary expectations, to utilise their monetary and fiscal instruments in the initial period to change the ultimate debt burden they need to service. We show that this temptation is only eliminated if following shocks, the new steady-state debt is equal to the original (efficient) debt level. This implies that under a discretionary policy the random walk result is overturned: debt will always be returned to this initial steady-state even although there is no explicit debt target in the government`s objective function. Analytically and in a series of numerical simulations we show which instrument is used to stabilise the debt depends crucially on the degree of nominal inertia and the size of the debt-stock. We also show that the welfare consequences of introducing debt are negligible for precommitment policy, but can be significant for discretionary policy.

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File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper310.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 310.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:310
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  1. Campbell Leith & Simon Wren-lewis, 2006. "The Costs of Fiscal Inflexibility," WEF Working Papers 0005, ESRC World Economy and Finance Research Programme, Birkbeck, University of London.
  2. Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2004. "Comparing shocks and frictions in US and euro area business cycles: a Bayesian DSGE approach," Working Paper Research 61, National Bank of Belgium.
  3. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
  4. Peter N. Ireland, 2004. "Technology Shocks in the New Keynesian Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(4), pages 923-936, November.
  5. Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2004. "Optimal Monetary and Fiscal Policy: A Linear-Quadratic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18, pages 271-364 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1997. "Dynamic Seigniorage Theory: An Exploration," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt712610vq, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  7. Martin Ellison & Neil Rankin, 2005. " Optimal Monetary Policy When Lump-Sum Taxes Are Unavailable: A Reconsideration of the Outcomes under Commitment and Discretion," CDMA Conference Paper Series 0501, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
  8. Campbell leith & Jim Malley, 2002. "Estimated General Equilibrium Models for the Evaluation of Monetary Policy in the US and Europe," Working Papers 2001_16, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  9. Söderlind, Paul, 1998. "Solution and Estimation of RE Macromodels with Optimal Policy," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 256, Stockholm School of Economics.
  10. Beetsma, Roel & Jensen, Henrik, 2003. "Mark-Up Fluctuations and Fiscal Policy Stabilization in a Monetary Union," CEPR Discussion Papers 4020, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 2001. "Optimal Monetary Policy in Open versus Closed Economies: An Integrated Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 248-252, May.
  12. Lombardo, Giovanni & Sutherland, Alan, 2004. "Monetary and fiscal interactions in open economies," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 319-347, June.
  13. Leith, Campbell & Wren-Lewis, Simon, 2006. "Compatibility between monetary and fiscal policy under EMU," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1529-1556, August.
  14. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1997. "Dynamic Seigniorage Theory," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(03), pages 588-614, September.
  15. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy: Some Recent Results," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 540-42, August.
  16. V.V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1991. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy: some recent results," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 519-546.
  17. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  18. Leith, Campbell & Wren-Lewis, Simon, 2000. "Interactions between Monetary and Fiscal Policy Rules," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages C93-108, March.
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