Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy with Sticky Wages and Sticky Prices
Review of Economic Dynamics, 2006. Vol. 9, p. 683-714.
We determine the optimal degree of price inflation volatility when nominal wages are sticky and the government uses state-contingent inflation to finance government spending. We address this question in a well-understood Ramsey model of fiscal and monetary policy, in which the benevolent planner has access to labor income taxes, nominally risk-free debt, and money creation. Our main result is that sticky wages alone make price stability optimal in the face of shocks to the government budget, to a degree quantitatively similar as sticky prices alone. Key for our results is an equilibrium restriction between nominal price inflation and nominal wage inflation that holds trivially in a Ramsey model featuring only sticky prices. Our results thus show that when nominal wages are sticky, setting real wages as close as possible to their efficient path is a more important goal of optimal monetary policy than is financing innovations in the government budget via state-contingent inflation. A second important result is that the nominal interest rate can be used to indirectly tax the rents of monopolistic labor suppliers. Taken together, our results uncover features of Ramsey fiscal and monetary policy in the presence of a type of labor market imperfection that is widely-believed to be important.
PDF file, April 2006 version