I.4. Can fiscal defcit finane replace ineffective monetary policy in these condi- tions?
Fiscal expansion can replace ineffective monetary policy at the zero lower bound, but fiscal expansion is not the same thing as deficit finance. It requires deficits aimed at, and conditioned on, generating inflation. The deficits must be seen as fi- nanced by future inflation, not future taxes or spending cuts.
V. WHY HAS MONETARY POLICY BEEN INEFFECTIVE IN THE US, EUROPE AND JAPAN ?
The general explanation for the low interest rates, large central bank balance sheets, and low inflation in these countries is the failure of effective fiscal expansion to take over from monetary policy as the zero lower bound was approached. Of course in these countries deficits have been large and debt-to-gdp ratios have increased. But the increased deficits have been accompanied by hand-wringing about their long- term effects on taxes and popular spending programs. In Europe, the emphasis on austerity has been explicit and widespread. The idea that the increases in debt were meant to create inflation that would partially pay for them is not part of the public discussion. In Japan, after an initial apparent move toward coordinated fiscal and monetary expansion, a substantial increase in the consumption tax was introduced before the inflation target was reached.
VI. CAN DEFICITS REPLACE INEFFECTIVE MONETARY POLICY AT THE ZERO LOWER BOUND?
What is required is that fiscal policy be seen as aimed at increasing the inflation rate, with monetary and fiscal policy coordinated on this objective. In Japan, this might be achieved by explicitly linking planned future increases in the consumption tax to hitting and maintaining the inflation target.