April 2004

Optimal Monetary and Fiscal Policy: A Linear-Quadratic Approach

Pierpaolo Benigno and Michael Woodford


We propose an integrated treatment of the problems of optimal monetary and fiscal policy, for an economy in which prices are sticky (so that the supply-side effects of tax changes are more complex than in standard fiscal analyses) and the only available sources of government revenue are distorting taxes (so that the fiscal consequences of monetary policy must be considered alongside the usual stabilization objectives). Our linear-quadratic approach allows us to nest both conventional analyses of optimal monetary stabilization policy and analyses of optimal tax-smoothing as special cases of our more general framework. We show how a linear-quadratic policy problem can be derived which yields a correct linear approximation to the optimal policy rules from the point of view of the maximization of expected discounted utility in a dynamic stochastic general-equilibrium model. Finally, in addition to characterizing the optimal dynamic responses to shocks under an optimal policy, we derive policy rules through which the monetary and fiscal authorities may implement the optimal equilibrium. These take the form of optimal targeting rules, specifying an appropriate target criterion for each authority.

As Published Elsewhere: Published in Mark Gertler and Kenneth Rogoff, eds., NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003

Full paper (screen reader version)

Keywords: Loss function, output gap, tax smoothing, targeting rules

PDF: Full Paper

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Last Update: January 11, 2021