We propose a continuous time model to investigate the impact of inflation credibility on sovereign debt dynamics. At every point in time, an impatient government decides fiscal surplus and inflation, without commitment. Inflation is costly, but reduces the real value of outstanding nominal debt. In equilibrium, debt dynamics is the result of two opposing forces: (i) impatience and (ii) the desire to conquer low inflation. A large increase in inflation credibility can trigger a process of debt accumulation. This rationalizes the sovereign debt booms that are often experienced by low inflation credibility countries upon joining a currency union.
We empirically characterize the mechanics of trade adjustment during the Argentine crisis. Though imports collapsed by 70 percent from 2000-2002, the entry and exit of firms or products at the country level played a small role. The within-firm churning of imported inputs, however, played a sizeable role. We build a model of trade in intermediate inputs with heterogeneous firms, fixed import costs, and roundabout production. Import demand is non-homothetic and the implications of an import price shock depend on the full distribution of firm-level adjustments. An import price shock generates a significant decline in productivity.
We survey the recent empirical and theoretical developments in the literature on the relation between prices and exchange rates. After updating some of the major findings in the empirical literature we present a simple framework to interpret this evidence. We review theoretical models that generate insensitivity of prices to exchange rate changes through variable markups, both under flexible prices and nominal rigidities, first in partial equilibrium and then in general equilibrium.
We show that even when the exchange rate cannot be devalued, a small set of conventional fiscal instruments can robustly replicate the real allocations attained under a nominal exchange rate devaluation in a dynamic New Keynesian open economy environment. We perform the analysis under alternative pricing assumptions—producer or local currency pricing, along with nominal wage stickiness; under arbitrary degrees of asset market completeness and for general stochastic sequences of devaluations. There are two types of fiscal policies equivalent to an exchange rate devaluation—one, a uniform increase in import tariff and export subsidy, and two, a value-added tax increase and a uniform payroll tax reduction. When the devaluations are anticipated, these policies need to be supplemented with a consumption tax reduction and an income tax increase. These policies are revenue neutral. In certain cases equivalence requires, in addition, a partial default on foreign bond holders. We discuss the issues of implementation of these policies, in particular, under the circumstances of a currency union.
We document the behavior of trade prices during the Great Trade Collapse of 2008-2009 using transaction-level data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. First, we find that differentiated manufactures exhibited marked stability in their trade prices during the large decline in their trade volumes. Prices of non-differentiated manufactures, by contrast, declined sharply. Second, while the trade collapse was much steeper among differentiated durable manufacturers than among non-durables, prices in both categories barely changed. Third, despite this lack of movement in average price levels, the frequency and magnitude of price adjustments at the product level noticeably changed with the onset of the crisis.