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Long-term Debt and Optimal Policy in the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level

  • JOHN H. COCHRANE

The fiscal theory says that the price level is determined by the ratio of nominal debt to the present value of real primary surpluses. The maturity structure of the debt matters in this theory. For example, it determines whether news of future deficits implies current inflation or future inflation, and the long-term debt allows the government to offset surplus shocks by ex-post devaluation. In the optimal policy, the government uses fiscal operations to smooth cyclical fiscal shocks. Since policy movements react to events rather than cause them, the optimal policy produces time series that are similar to U.S. time series.

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Paper provided by Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago in its series CRSP working papers with number 478.

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Date of creation: Oct 1998
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Handle: RePEc:wop:chispw:478
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  1. John H. Cochrane, 1999. "A Frictionless View of U.S. Inflation," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1998, volume 13, pages 323-421 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Canzoneri, Matthew B & Cumby, Robert & Diba, Behzad, 1998. "Is the Price Level Determined by the Needs of Fiscal Solvency?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1772, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Michael Woodford, 1995. "Price Level Determinacy Without Control of a Monetary Aggregate," NBER Working Papers 5204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Dupor, Bill, 2000. "Exchange rates and the fiscal theory of the price level," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 613-630, June.
  5. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  6. Michael Woodford, 1996. "Control of the Public Debt: A Requirement for Price Stability?," NBER Working Papers 5684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Sargent, Thomas J & Wallace, Neil, 1975. ""Rational" Expectations, the Optimal Monetary Instrument, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 241-54, April.
  8. Leeper, Eric M., 1991. "Equilibria under 'active' and 'passive' monetary and fiscal policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 129-147, February.
  9. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1973. "Some International Evidence on Output-Inflation Tradeoffs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 326-34, June.
  10. Sims, Christopher A, 1994. "A Simple Model for Study of the Determination of the Price Level and the Interaction of Monetary and Fiscal Policy," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 381-99.
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