Does Monetary Cooperation or Confrontation Lead to Successful Fiscal Consolidation?

Tomas Hellebrandt (PIIE), Adam S. Posen (PIIE) and Marilyne Tolle (Bank of England)
Policy Brief
April 2012

Active accommodation of fiscal consolidations by monetary policy is controversial, as can be seen in current euro area discussions. While many observers acknowledge that there is usually a place for monetary accommodation in response to fiscal consolidation, a sequencing argument is often heard today that fiscal commitment must precede any loosening. Some analysts go further to suggest that toughness by central banks taking a hard line on adjustment is critical to inducing sustained fiscal stabilization. This policy brief looks at the recent historical record of central bank behavior vis-à-vis fiscal authorities, at least until the current crisis period, and whether accommodative approaches ahead of consolidations have proven dangerous or helpful. The authors also try to assess the market credibility of fiscal consolidations as a function of the central banks' monetary stance prior to fiscal consolidation. They find clear evidence of positive associations between the degree of monetary ease in advance of fiscal consolidation programs and both those programs' success and their market credibility.