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The simple analytics of Helicopter money: Why it works - always

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  • Buiter, Willem H.

Abstract

The authors provides a rigorous analysis of Milton Friedman's parable of the 'helicopter' drop of money - a permanent/irreversible increase in the nominal stock of fiat base money which respects the intertemporal budget constraint of the consolidated Central Bank and Treasury - the State. Examples are a temporary fiscal stimulus funded permanently through an increase in the stock of base money and permanent QE - an irreversible, monetised open market purchase by the Central Bank of non-monetary sovereign debt. Three conditions must be satisfied for helicopter money always to boost aggregate demand. First, there must be benefits from holding fiat base money other than its pecuniary rate of return. Second, fiat base money is irredeemable - viewed as an asset by the holder but not as a liability by the issuer. Third, the price of money is positive. Given these three conditions, there always exists a combined monetary and fiscal policy action that boosts private demand - in principle without limit. Deflation, 'lowflation' and secular stagnation are therefore unnecessary. They are policy choices.

Suggested Citation

  • Buiter, Willem H., 2014. "The simple analytics of Helicopter money: Why it works - always," Economics Discussion Papers 2014-24, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwedp:201424
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Neil R. Mehrotra, 2014. "A Model of Secular Stagnation," NBER Working Papers 20574, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    6. Michele Lenza & Huw Pill & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2010. "Monetary policy in exceptional times," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 25, pages 295-339, April.
    7. Willem H. Buiter, 2003. "Helicopter Money: Irredeemable Fiat Money and the Liquidity Trap," NBER Working Papers 10163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Gerald Nickelsburg, 1984. "Dynamic Exchange Rate Equilibria with Uncertain Government Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(3), pages 509-519.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    helicopter money; liquidity trap; seigniorage; secular stagnation; central bank; quantitative easing;

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt

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