BPEA | Spring 2011

An Exploration of Optimal Stabilization Policy

Matthew Weinzierl and
Matthew Weinzierl Harvard University
N. Gregory Mankiw
N. Gregory Mankiw Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics - Harvard University
Discussants: Gauti B. Eggertsson and
Gauti B. Eggertsson Professor of Economics - Brown University
Olivier Blanchard
Olivier Blanchard C. Fred Bergsten Senior Fellow - Peterson Institute for International Economics

Spring 2011

This paper examines the optimal response of monetary and
fiscal policy to a decline in aggregate demand. The theoretical framework is a
two-period general equilibrium model in which prices are sticky in the short
run and flexible in the long run. Policy is evaluated by how well it raises the
welfare of the representative household. Although the model has Keynesian
features, its policy prescriptions differ significantly from those of textbook
Keynesian analysis. Moreover, the model suggests that the commonly used
“bang for the buck” calculations are potentially misleading guides for the
welfare effects of alternative fiscal policies.