Discussion Paper Details

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Title: The Household Fallacy

Author(s): Roger E A Farmer and Pawel Zabczyk

Publication Date: March 2018


Programme Area(s): Monetary Economics and Fluctuations

Abstract: We refer to the idea that government must 'tighten its belt' as a necessary policy response to higher indebtedness as the household fallacy. We provide a reason to be skeptical of this claim that holds even if the economy always operates at full employment and all markets clear. Our argument rests on the fact that, in an overlapping-generations (OLG) model, changes in government debt cause changes in the real interest rate that redistribute the burden of repayment across generations. We do not rely on the assumption that the equilibrium is dynamically inefficient, and our argument holds in a version of the OLG model where the real interest rate is always positive.

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Bibliographic Reference

Farmer, R and Zabczyk, P. 2018. 'The Household Fallacy'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.