Working Paper No. 685 | September 2011

Quantitative Easing, Functional Finance, and the “Neutral” Interest Rate

The main purpose of this study is to explore the potential expansionary effect stemming from the monetization of debt. We develop a simple macroeconomic model with Keynesian features and four sectors: creditor households, debtor households, businesses, and the public sector. We show that such expansionary effect stems mainly from a reduction in the financial cost of servicing the public debt. The efficacy of the channel that allegedly operates through the compression of the risk/term premium on securities is found to be ambiguous. Finally, we show that a country that issues its own currency can avoid becoming stuck in a structural “liquidity trap,” provided its central bank is willing to monetize the debt created by a strong enough fiscal expansion.

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