This paper argues that in reserve currency issuing economies at the effective lower bound, outright transfers from the central bank to households are both more equitable and more effective in achieving monetary policy objectives than asset purchases or negative interest rates. It shows that concerns pertaining to central banks’ policy solvency and equity position can be addressed through a careful assessment of a central bank's loss absorbing capacity and, if need be, tiered reserve remuneration policies. It also spells out key differences to a debt or money financed fiscal stimulus, which are particularly pronounced in a currency union without a central fiscal capacity. The paper concludes by discussing broader institutional, political, and legal considerations.
The theoretical literature generally finds that government spending multipliers are bigger than unity in a low interest rate environment. Using a fully nonlinear New Keynesian model, we show that such big multipliers can decrease when 1) an initial debt-to-GDP ratio is higher, 2) tax burden is higher, 3) debt maturity is longer, and 4) monetary policy is more responsive to inflation. When monetary and fiscal policy regimes can switch, policy uncertainty also reduces spending multipliers. In particular, when higher inflation induces a rising probability to switch to a regime in which monetary policy actively controls inflation and fiscal policy raises future taxes to stabilize government debt, the multipliers can fall much below unity, especially with an initial high debt ratio. Our findings help reconcile the mixed empirical evidence on government spending effects with low interest rates.
Ichiro Fukunaga, Mr. Takuji Komatsuzaki, and Hideaki Matsuoka
This paper quantitatively assesses the effects of inflation shocks on the public debt-to-GDP ratio in 19 advanced economies using simulation and estimation approaches. The simulations based on the debt dynamics equation and estimations of impulse responses by local projections both suggest that a 1 percentage point shock to inflation rate reduces the debt-to-GDP ratio by about 0.5 to 1 percentage points. The results also suggest that the impact is larger and more persistent when the debt maturity is longer, but the difference from the benchmark case is not significant. These results imply that modestly higher inflation, even if accompanied by some financial repression, could reduce public debt burden only marginally in many advanced economies.
Huixin Bi, Ms. Wenyi Shen, and Susan Yang Shu-Chun
This paper studies the main channels through which interest rate normalization has fiscal implications in the United States. While unexpected inflation reduces the real value of government liabilities, a rising policy rate increases government financing needs because of higher interest payments and lower real bond prices. After an initial decline, the real government debt burden rises even with higher tax revenues in an expansion. Given the current net debt-to-GDP ratio at around 80 percent, interest rate normalization leads to a negligible increase in the sovereign default risk of the U.S. federal government, despite a much higher federal debt-to-GDP ratio than the post-war historical average.
Ioana Moldovan, Mrs. Marina V Rousset, and Chris Walker
A low-income country such as Haiti that confronts an environment of diminishing aid inflows must assess tradeoffs among the available policy options: spending cuts, monetization, sales of debt, or use of foreign reserves. To provide the analytical tools for this task, the paper draws from a set of DSGE models recently developed to evaluate policy choices in low-income countries for which external aid flows represent an important revenue source. Two simplified stylized variations of the main model are used to gain intuition and initially assess the trdeaoffs. Subsequenctly a full-scale small open economy DSGE model, calibrated to match conditions in Haiti and in similar low-income countries, is employed. Several key results are common to all model versions. While sales of foreign exchange reserves can compensate for the loss of aid inflows, this strategy is not sustainable. The remaining policy choices entail larger welfare costs, involving lower consumption levels and real depreciation. The results suggest that a mixture of spending cuts and depreciation is the best strategy, when use of foreign reserves is constrained.
Sangyup Choi, Davide Furceri, and Mr. Prakash Loungani
Central bankers often assert that low inflation and anchoring of inflation expectations are good for economic growth (Bernanke 2007, Plosser 2007). We test this claim using panel data on sectoral growth for 22 manufacturing industries for 36 advanced and emerging market economies over the period 1990-2014. Inflation anchoring in each country is measured as the response of inflation expectations to inflation surprises (Levin et al., 2004). We find that credit constrained industries—those characterized by high external financial dependence and R&D intensity and low asset tangibility—tend to grow faster in countries with well-anchored inflation expectations. The results are robust to controlling for the interaction between these characteristics and a broad set of macroeconomic variables over the sample period, such as financial development, inflation, the size of government, overall economic growth, monetary policy counter-cyclicality and the level of inflation. Importantly, the results suggest that it is inflation anchoring and not the level of inflation per se that has a significant effect on average industry growth. Finally, the results are robust to IV techniques, using as instruments indicators of monetary policy transparency and independence.
Vincent Belinga and Mr. Constant A Lonkeng Ngouana
This paper provides estimates of the government spending multiplier over the monetary policy cycle. We identify government spending shocks as forecast errors of the growth rate of government spending from the Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF) and from the Greenbook record. The state of monetary policy is inferred from the deviation of the U.S. Fed funds rate from the target rate, using a smooth transition function. Applying the local projections method to quarterly U.S. data, we find that the federal government spending multiplier is substantially higher under accommodative than non-accommodative monetary policy. Our estimations also suggest that federal government spending may crowd-in or crowd-out private consumption, depending on the extent of monetary policy accommodation. The latter result reconciles—in a unified framework—apparently contradictory findings in the literature. We discuss the implications of our findings for the ongoing normalization of monetary conditions in advanced economies.