Working Paper

Monetary and Fiscal Policies in Times of Large Debt: Unity is Strength


Abstract: The COVID pandemic hit the US economy at a time in which the ability of policymakers to react to adverse shocks is greatly limited. The current low interest rate environment limits the Federal Reserve's ability to stabilize the economy, while the large public debt curtails the efficacy of fiscal interventions by inducing expectations of costly fiscal adjustments. A solution to this impasse is a coordinated fiscal and monetary strategy aiming at creating a controlled rise of inflation to wear away a targeted fraction of debt. Under our coordinated strategy, the fiscal authority introduces an emergency budget with no provisions on how it will be balanced, while the monetary authority allows a temporary increase in inflation. The coordinated strategy enhances the efficacy of the fiscal stimulus planned in response to the COVID pandemic and allows the Federal Reserve to correct a prolonged period of below-target inflation. The strategy results in only moderate levels of inflation by separating long-run fiscal sustainability from a short-run policy intervention.

Keywords: Monetary policy; fiscal policy; emergency budget; shock specific rule; COVID;

JEL Classification: E30; E52; E62;

https://doi.org/10.21033/wp-2020-13

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Part of Series: Working Paper Series

Publication Date: 2020-05-12

Number: WP-2020-13