The analyses of fiscal and monetary policies that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provides Congress tend to be biased, encouraging the use of activist stabilization policies. The CBO’s virtual neglect of economic uncertainties and its emphasis on very short time horizons make active policies appear much more attractive than its own model implies. Moreover, the CBO’s adoption of the macroeconometric approach fundamentally biases its analyses. Macroeconometric models do not remain invariant to changes in policy rules and are mute on the implications of alternative policies for efficiency and income distribution. The rational expectations equilibrium approach overcomes these difficulties and implies that less activist and less inflationary policies are desirable.
This paper reviews selected studies in the theory of macroeconomic stabilization policy and summarizes their key findings. A simple model is constructed which includes all surveyed models as special cases. All solutions are derived and described step by step.
In a model which exhibits many monetarist properties it is shown that monetary and fiscal policies must be coordinated. The model is populated by overlapping generations of three-period lived agents who can hold fiat money, fiat bonds, and physical capital. A government produces a public good and issues both money and fiat bonds to finance permanent budget deficits. In this model both fiat money and fiat bonds can have value in equilibrium, and their co-existence can allow a more efficient financing of deficits than can a single debt instrument.