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Author:Eggertsson, Gauti B. 

Fiscal multipliers and policy coordination

This paper addresses the effectiveness of fiscal policy at zero nominal interest rates. I analyze a stochastic general equilibrium model with sticky prices and rational expectations and assume that the government cannot commit to future policy. Real government spending increases demand by increasing public consumption. Deficit spending increases demand by generating inflation expectations. I derive fiscal spending multipliers that calculate how much output increases for each dollar of government spending (real or deficit). Under monetary and fiscal policy coordination, the real spending ...
Staff Reports , Paper 241

Great expectations and the end of the depression

This paper argues that the U.S. economy's recovery from the Great Depression was driven by a shift in expectations brought about by the policy actions of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. On the monetary policy side, Roosevelt abolished the gold standard and-even more important-announced the policy objective of inflating the price level to pre-depression levels. On the fiscal policy side, Roosevelt expanded real and deficit spending. Together, these actions made his policy objective credible; they violated prevailing policy dogmas and introduced a policy regime change such as that ...
Staff Reports , Paper 234

Working Paper
Can structural reforms help Europe?

Structural reforms that increase competition in product and labor markets are often indicated as the main policy option available for peripheral Europe to regain competitiveness and boost output. We show that, in a crisis that pushes the nominal interest rate to its lower bound, these reforms do not support economic activity in the short run, and may well be contractionary. Absent the appropriate monetary stimulus, reforms fuel expectations of prolonged deation, increase the real interest rate, and depress aggregate demand. Our findings carry important implications for the current debate on ...
International Finance Discussion Papers , Paper 1092

The politics of central bank independence: a theory of pandering and learning in government

We propose a theory to explain why, and under what circumstances, a politician endogenously gives up rent and delegates policy tasks to an independent agency. Applied to monetary policy, this theory (i) formalizes the rationale for delegation highlighted by Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, and by Alan S. Blinder, former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; and (ii) does not rely on the inflation bias that underlies most existing theories of central bank independence. Delegation trades off the cost of having a ...
Staff Reports , Paper 205

The inflation-output trade-off revisited

A rich literature from the 1970s shows that as inflation expectations become more and more ingrained, monetary policy loses its stimulative effect. In the extreme, with perfectly anticipated inflation, there is no trade-off between inflation and output. A recent literature on the interest-rate zero lower bound, however, suggests there may be some benefits from anticipated inflation when he economy is in a liquidity trap. In this paper, we reconcile these two views by showing that while it is true, at positive interest rates, that inflation loses its stimulative effects as it becomes better ...
Staff Reports , Paper 608

Discussion Paper
“Excess Savings” Are Not Excessive

How will the U.S. economy emerge from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? Will it struggle to return to prior levels of employment and activity, or will it come roaring back as soon as vaccinations are widespread and Americans feel comfortable travelling and eating out? Part of the answer to these questions hinges on what will happen to the large amount of “excess savings” that U.S. households have accumulated since last March. According to most estimates, these savings are around $1.6 trillion and counting. Some economists have expressed the concern that, if a considerable fraction of these ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20210405a

A Bayesian approach to estimating tax and spending multipliers

This paper outlines a simple Bayesian methodology for estimating tax and spending multipliers in a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model. After forming priors about the parameters of the model and the relevant shock, we used the model to exactly match only one data point: the trough of the Great Depression, that is, an output collapse of 30 percent, deflation of 10 percent, and a zero short-term nominal interest rate. Because we form our priors as distributions, the key economic inference of our analysis--the multipliers of tax and spending--are well-defined probability ...
Staff Reports , Paper 403

Deficits, public debt dynamics, and tax and spending multipliers

Cutting government spending on goods and services increases the budget deficit if the nominal interest rate is close to zero. This is the message of a simple but standard New Keynesian DSGE model calibrated with Bayesian methods. The cut in spending reduces output and thus?holding rates for labor and sales taxes constant?reduces revenues by even more than what is saved by the spending cut. Similarly, increasing sales taxes can increase the budget deficit rather than reduce it. Both results suggest limitations of ?austerity measures? in low interest rate economies to cut budget deficits. ...
Staff Reports , Paper 551

Was the New Deal contractionary?

Can government policies that increase the monopoly power of firms and the militancy of unions increase output? This paper studies this question in a dynamic general equilibrium model with nominal frictions and shows that these policies are expansionary when certain "emergency" conditions apply. I argue that these emergency conditions-zero interest rates and deflation-were satisfied during the Great Depression in the United States. Therefore, the New Deal, which facilitated monopolies and union militancy, was expansionary, according to the model. This conclusion is contrary to the one reached ...
Staff Reports , Paper 264

The paradox of toil

This paper proposes a new paradox: the paradox of toil. Suppose everyone wakes up one day and decides they want to work more. What happens to aggregate employment? This paper shows that, under certain conditions, aggregate employment falls; that is, there is less work in the aggregate because everyone wants to work more. The conditions for the paradox to apply are that the short-term nominal interest rate is zero and there are deflationary pressures and output contraction, much as during the Great Depression in the United States and, perhaps, the 2008 financial crisis in large parts of the ...
Staff Reports , Paper 433


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