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Monetary and Fiscal Theories of the Price Level: The Irreconcilable Differences


Bennett T. McCallum


Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Edward Nelson


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - Research Division; Federal Reserve Board

February 2006

FRB of St. Louis Working Paper No. 2006-010A

Abstract:     
The fiscal theory of the price level (FTPL) has attracted much attention but disagreement remains concerning its defining characteristics. Some writers have emphasized implications regarding interest-rate pegging and determinacy of RE solutions, whereas others have stressed its capacity to generate equilibria in which price level trajectories mimic those of bonds and differ drastically from those of money supplies. We argue that the FTPL attained prominence precisely because it appeared to provide a theory whose implications differ greatly from conventional monetary analysis; accordingly we review monetarist writings to identify the primary distinctions. In addition, we review recent findings concerning learnability - and therefore plausibility - of competing RE equilibria. These indicate that when FTPL and monetarist equilibria differ, the latter are more plausible in the vast majority of cases. Under Ricardian assumptions, necessary for clear distinctions, theoretical analysis indicates that fiscal and monetary coordination is not necessary for macroeconomic stability.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

Keywords: Fiscal theory of the price level, quantity theory, monetarism, monetary-fiscal policy coordination

JEL Classification: E31, E52, E63

working papers series


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Date posted: March 13, 2006  

Suggested Citation

McCallum, Bennett T. and Nelson, Edward, Monetary and Fiscal Theories of the Price Level: The Irreconcilable Differences (February 2006). FRB of St. Louis Working Paper No. 2006-010A. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=887322 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.887322

Contact Information

Bennett T. McCallum (Contact Author)
Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business ( email )
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-2347 (Phone)
412-268-7357 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Edward Nelson
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - Research Division ( email )
411 Locust St
Saint Louis, MO 63011
United States
314-444-8712 (Phone)
314-444-8731 (Fax)
Federal Reserve Board ( email )
20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States
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