Is it is or is it Ain't my Obligation? Regional Debt in Monetary Unions

Russell Cooper, Hubert Kempf, Dan Peled

NBER Working Paper No. 10239
Issued in January 2004
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth

This paper studies the implications of the circulation of interest bearing regional debt in a monetary union. Does the circulation of this debt have the same monetary implications as the printing of money by a central government? Or are the obligations of this debt simply backed by future taxation with no inflationary consequences? We argue here that both outcomes can arise in equilibrium. In the model economy we consider there are multiple equilibria which reflect the perceptions of agents regarding the manner in which the debt obligations will be met. In one equilibrium, termed Ricardian, the future obligations are met with taxation by a regional government while in the other, termed Monetization, the central bank is induced to print money to finance the region's obligations. The multiplicity of equilibria reflects a commitment problem of the central bank. A key indicator of the selected equilibrium is the distribution of the holdings of the regional debt. We use the model to assess the impact of policy measures, such as fiscal restrictions, within a monetary union.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10239

Published: Russell Cooper & Hubert Kempf & Dan Peled, 2008. "Is It Is Or Is It Ain'T My Obligation? Regional Debt In A Fiscal Federation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1469-1504, November.

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