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Author:Eggertsson, Gauti B. 

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

Is increased price flexibility stabilizing? Redux

We study the implications of increased price flexibility on aggregate output volatility in a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model. First, using a simplified version of the model, we show analytically that the results depend on the shocks driving the economy and the systematic response of monetary policy to inflation: More flexible prices amplify the effect of demand shocks on output if interest rates do not respond strongly to inflation, while higher flexibility amplifies the effect of supply shocks on output if interest rates are very responsive to inflation. Next, we estimate ...
Staff Reports , Paper 540

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

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

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

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

Working Paper
A Model of Secular Stagnation: Theory and Quantitative Evaluation

This paper formalizes and quantifies the secular stagnation hypothesis, defined as a persistently low or negative natural rate of interest leading to a chronically binding zero lower bound (ZLB). Output-inflation dynamics and policy prescriptions are fundamentally different from those in the standard New Keynesian framework. Using a 56-period quantitative life cycle model, a standard calibration to US data delivers a natural rate ranging from -1.5% to -2%, implying an elevated risk of ZLB episodes for the foreseeable future. We decompose the contribution of demographic and technological ...
Working Papers , Paper 742

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

Optimal monetary and fiscal policy under discretion in the New Keynesian model: a technical appendix to \\"Great Expectations and the End of the Depression\\"

This paper details the microfoundations of the model presented in Staff Report no. 234, "Great Expectations and the End of the Depression." It defines the Markov perfect equilibrium formally in the nonlinear model, discusses in some detail the approximation method used and the order of accuracy of this approximation, and gives proofs of two propositions not proved in Staff Report no. 234. In addition, this paper states a proposition that shows the equivalence between the linear quadratic approximation in Staff Report no. 234 and a first order approximation to the exact nonlinear ...
Staff Reports , Paper 235

What fiscal policy is effective at zero interest rates?

Tax cuts can deepen a recession if the short-term nominal interest rate is zero, according to a standard New Keynesian business cycle model. An example of a contractionary tax cut is a reduction in taxes on wages. This tax cut deepens a recession because it increases deflationary pressures. Another example is a cut in capital taxes. This tax cut deepens a recession because it encourages people to save instead of spend at a time when more spending is needed. Fiscal policies aimed directly at stimulating aggregate demand work better. These policies include 1) a temporary increase in government ...
Staff Reports , Paper 402


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