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COVID-19, Seignorage, Quantitative Easing and the Fiscal-Monetary Nexus

Alex Cukierman ()

Comparative Economic Studies, 2021, vol. 63, issue 2, No 1, 199 pages

Abstract: Abstract The huge fiscal expansions triggered by the corona crisis raised debt/GDP ratios to very high levels. This led some economists to reconsider the taboo on seignorage. Following a brief documentation of the crisis impact and aggregate demand policies responses the paper discusses views of academics and policymakers on seignorage. Optimal taxation considerations imply that the decision on allocating deficit financing between debt and seignorage falls within the realm of fiscal authorities—a fact that infringes on central bank (CB) autonomy. The paper explores ideas aimed at improving the tradeoff between those two principles. Implication of cross-country variations in the need to use seignorage is discussed. Comparison of the indirect contribution of quantitative easing (QE) to deficit financing with the direct contribution of seignorage implies that QE is a substitute to seignorage that preserves central bank dominance without much change in existing monetary institutions. Comparison of empirical evidence from the USA during the global financial crisis with the post-WWI German inflation supports the view that for countries experiencing deflationary pressure seignorage is more potent in moving inflation toward its target than QE. Given the current outlook temporary use of seignorage does not appear to involve a substantial risk of inflation.

Keywords: COVID-19; Seignorage; Deficits; Government debt; Optimal taxation; Central bank independence; Quantitative easing; Fiscal institutions; Inflation and deflation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E31 E5 E62 E63 H12 H21 H6 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1057/s41294-021-00150-7

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