Self-Fulfilling Debt Crises: Can Monetary Policy Really Help?

45 Pages Posted: 11 May 2015

See all articles by Philippe Bacchetta

Philippe Bacchetta

University of Lausanne; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Swiss Finance Institute

Elena Perazzi

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Eric van Wincoop

University of Virginia - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Date Written: May 2015

Abstract

This paper examines quantitatively the potential for monetary policy to avoid self-fulfilling sovereign debt crises. We combine a version of the slow-moving debt crisis model proposed by Lorenzoni and Werning (2014) with a standard New Keynesian model. We consider both conventional and unconventional monetary policy. Under conventional policy the central bank can preclude a debt crisis through inflation, lowering the real interest rate and raising output. These reduce the real value of the outstanding debt and the cost of new borrowing, and increase tax revenues and seigniorage. Unconventional policies take the form of liquidity support or debt buyback policies that raise the monetary base beyond the satiation level. We find that generally the central bank cannot credibly avoid a self-fulfilling debt crisis. Conventional policies needed to avert a crisis require excessive inflation for a sustained period of time. Unconventional monetary policy can only be effective when the economy is at a structural ZLB for a sustained length of time.

Suggested Citation

Bacchetta, Philippe and Perazzi, Elena and van Wincoop, Eric, Self-Fulfilling Debt Crises: Can Monetary Policy Really Help? (May 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21158, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2604839

Philippe Bacchetta (Contact Author)

University of Lausanne ( email )

Faculty of Business and Economics
Internef 523
1015 Lausanne
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.hec.unil.ch/pbacchetta/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Swiss Finance Institute

c/o University of Geneva
40, Bd du Pont-d'Arve
CH-1211 Geneva 4
Switzerland

Elena Perazzi

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne ( email )

Quartier UNIL-Dorigny, Bâtiment Extranef, # 211
40, Bd du Pont-d'Arve
CH-1015 Lausanne, CH-6900
Switzerland

Eric Van Wincoop

University of Virginia - Department of Economics ( email )

Rouss Hall 114
P.O. Box 400182
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
United States
804-924-3997 (Phone)
804-982-2904 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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