2023 Thomas Laubach Research Conference, Session 3 | Summary and Q&A

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May 30, 2023
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Federal Reserve
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2023 Thomas Laubach Research Conference, Session 3

TL;DR

The paper presents a model that examines the joint dynamics of debt and deficits, exploring the conditions for a "free lunch" in fiscal policy. It finds that a free lunch is possible when the interest rate is less than the growth rate minus a constant sensitivity factor to debt levels.

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Key Insights

  • ☠️ The availability of a "free lunch" in fiscal policy depends on the relationship between the interest rate, growth rate, and debt levels.
  • 😘 The zero lower bound can impact the availability of a free lunch, with low deficits potentially increasing debt levels due to reduced aggregate demand.
  • 👾 Inequality can contribute to increased fiscal space outside of the zero lower bound, but it may reduce fiscal space at the zero lower bound due to its impact on aggregate demand.
  • 🥶 The sensitivity factor to debt levels plays a crucial role in determining fiscal space, with higher sensitivity reducing the availability of a free lunch.

Transcript

all right welcome back well to round out our conference we have one more session today focusing on fiscal and monetary policies for the longer run and I'm very pleased to introduce our session chair minway who is a senior associate director here in the division of monetary Affairs and is also a co-author and a long time colleague of Thomas so thank... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the main focus of the paper?

The main focus of the paper is to analyze the joint dynamics of debt and deficits in fiscal policy and determine under what conditions a "free lunch" is possible, where deficits can be increased without leading to unsustainable debt levels.

Q: What factors are considered in the model to determine fiscal space?

The model takes into account the interest rate, growth rate, debt levels, and a sensitivity factor to debt levels. By analyzing these factors, the model determines the maximum level of sustainable deficits that can be achieved without causing explosive debt growth.

Q: How does the zero lower bound affect the availability of a free lunch?

The zero lower bound, which limits the ability of the central bank to lower interest rates, can impact the availability of a free lunch in fiscal policy. The paper finds that low deficits can potentially increase debt levels due to reduced aggregate demand at the zero lower bound.

Q: Does inequality play a role in determining fiscal space?

The paper suggests that inequality can contribute to increased fiscal space outside of the zero lower bound. However, at the zero lower bound, inequality may reduce fiscal space by reducing aggregate demand and potentially hindering the effectiveness of deficit policies.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The paper analyzes the relationship between debt, deficits, and fiscal space in an endowment economy.

  • It introduces the concept of a "free lunch" in fiscal policy, where deficits can be increased without leading to explosive debt levels.

  • The model shows that a free lunch is possible when the interest rate is less than the growth rate minus a constant sensitivity factor to debt levels.

  • It also examines the impact of the zero lower bound on the availability of a free lunch, with findings suggesting that low deficits can potentially increase debt levels due to reduced aggregate demand.

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