Brookings Papers on Economic Activity: Fall 2009 by David H. Romer, Justin Wolfers

By David H. Romer, Justin Wolfers

Brookings Papers on fiscal job (BPEA) offers educational and enterprise economists, govt officers, and contributors of the monetary and enterprise groups with well timed examine on present fiscal issues.


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5 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Source: Consensus Economics, “Consensus Forecasts,” 2000–April 2009, April and October issues. Figure 8. 15, “Selected Interest Rates,” various issues; Bureau of Economic Analysis data; author’s calculations. a. TIPS, Treasury inflation-protected securities. 18 Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Fall 2009 and may prove to be an overreaction to it. This hypothesis receives some support from prices of inflation-indexed Treasury securities. Evidently, investors expect real interest rates to remain low over the next five years but to be closer to historically normal levels thereafter.

JOHN C. WILLIAMS 29 is something missing from the dynamics in the models or the assumed monetary policies. B. Countercyclical Fiscal Policy The active use of countercyclical fiscal policy has been excluded from consideration in most quantitative research on the ZLB, including the simulations reported above. The experience of the past decade suggests that this assumption is too stringent and may overstate the future effects of the ZLB by ignoring the ways in which fiscal policy can substitute for monetary policy.

For comparison, the standard deviation of the output gap during the Great Moderation period was 2 percentage points, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. 7 percentage points. Thus, moving from a 4 percent inflation target to a 1 percent target yields an increase in output gap variability in these model simulations comparable to switching from the Great Moderation period to the 1965–80 period. 3 percentage point above that during the Great Moderation period. III. Alternative Monetary and Fiscal Policies The results reported above indicate that in a particularly adverse macroeconomic environment of large shocks and a low steady-state real interest rate, the ZLB may cause a significant deterioration in macroeconomic performance when monetary policy follows the classic Taylor rule with a very low inflation target.

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