Anchors Away: How Fiscal Policy Can Undermine the Taylor Principle
NBER Working Paper No. 15514
Slow moving demographics are aging populations around the world and pushing many countries into an extended period of heightened fiscal stress. In some countries, taxes alone cannot or likely will not fully fund projected pension and health care expenditures. If economic agents place sufficient probability on the economy hitting its "fiscal limit" at some point in the future--after which further tax revenues are not forthcoming--it may no longer be possible for monetary policy behavior that obeys the Taylor principle to control inflation or anchor inflation expectations. In the period leading up to the fiscal limit, the more aggressively that monetary policy leans against inflationary winds, the more expected inflation becomes unhinged from the inflation target. Problems confronting monetary policy are exacerbated when policy institutions leave fiscal objectives and targets unspecified and, therefore, fiscal expectations unanchored. In light of this theory, the paper contrasts monetary-fiscal policy frameworks in the United States and Chile.