Reforming the European Monetary Union
We offer a theoretically based narrative that attempts to account both for the formation of the European Monetary Union (EMU) and for the challenges it has faced. Lack of commitment to policy plays a central role in this narrative and leads to four policy implications for EMU redesign.
If exchange rates are random walks, then almost everything we say about monetary policy is wrong
The key question asked by standard monetary models used for policy analysis, How do changes in short-term interest rates affect the economy? All of the standard models imply that such changes in interest rates affect the economy by altering the conditional means of the macroeconomic aggregates and have no effect on the conditional variances of these aggregates. We argue that the data on exchange rates imply nearly the opposite: the observation that exchange rates are approximately random walks implies that fluctuations in interest rates are associated with nearly one-for-one changes in ...
Asking the right questions about the IMF
1998 Annual Report essay
Money, interest rates, and exchange rates with endogenously segmented markets
This paper analyzes the effects of money injections on interest rates and exchange rates in a model in which agents must pay a Baumol-Tobin style fixed cost to exchange bonds and money. Asset markets are endogenously segmented because this fixed cost leads agents to trade bonds and money only infrequently. When the government injects money through an open market operation, only those agents that are currently trading absorb these injections. Through their impact on these agents? consumption, these money injections affect real interest rates and real exchange rates. We show that the model ...
Optimality of the Friedman rule in economies with distorting taxes
We find conditions for the Friedman rule to be optimal in three standard models of money. These conditions are homotheticity and separability assumptions on preferences similar to those in the public finance literature on optimal uniform commodity taxation. We show that there is no connection between our results and the result in the standard public finance literature that intermediate goods should not be taxed.
Reputation with multiple relationships: reviving reputation models of debt
A traditional explanation for why sovereign governments repay debts is that they want to keep a good reputation so they can easily borrow more. Bulow and Rogoff have challenged this explanation. They argue that, in complete information models, government borrowing requires direct legal sanctions. We argue that, in incomplete information models with multiple trust relationships, large amounts of government borrowing can be supported by reputation alone.
Models of energy use: putty-putty vs. putty-clay
Energy use is inelastic in time-series data, but elastic in international cross-section data. Two models of energy use reproduce these elasticities: a putty-putty model with adjustment costs developed by Pindyck and Rotemberg (1983) and a putty-clay model. In the Pindyck-Rotemberg model, capital and energy are highly complementary in both the short run and the long run. In the putty-clay model, capital and energy are complementary in the short run, but substitutable in the long run. We highlight the differences in the cross-section implications of the models by considering the effect of an ...
A decade lost and found: Mexico and Chile in the 1980s
Chile and Mexico experienced severe economic crises in the early 1980s. This paper analyzes four possible explanations for why Chile recovered much faster than did Mexico. Comparing data from the two countries allows us to rule out a monetarist explanation, an explanation based on falls in real wages and real exchange rates, and a debt overhang explanation. Using growth accounting, a calibrated growth model, and economic theory, we conclude that the crucial difference between the two countries was the earlier policy reforms in Chile that generated faster productivity growth. The most crucial ...
The optimal degree of discretion in monetary policy
How much discretion should the monetary authority have in setting its policy? This question is analyzed in an economy with an agreed-upon social welfare function that depends on the randomly fluctuating state of the economy. The monetary authority has private information about that state. In the model, well-designed rules trade off society?s desire to give the monetary authority discretion to react to its private information against society?s need to guard against the time inconsistency problem arising from the temptation to stimulate the economy with unexpected inflation. Although this ...
On the denomination of government debt: a critique of the portfolio balance approach
We show that some classes of sterilized interventions have no effect on equilibrium prices and quantities. The proof does not require complete markets, Ricardian equivalence, monetary neutrality, or the law of one price. Moreover, regressions of exchange rates or interest differentials on variables measuring debt?s currency composition contain no information about the effectiveness of such interventions. Other interventions require changes in monetary and fiscal policy; their effects depend, generally, on the influence of these changes on the economy and not on the intervention alone. In ...