The Liquidity Channel of Fiscal Policy

Abstract

We provide evidence that expansionary fiscal policy lowers return differences between public debt and less liquid assets—the liquidity premium. We rationalize this finding in an estimated heterogeneous-agent New-Keynesian model with incomplete markets and portfolio choice, in which public debt affects private liquidity. This liquidity channel stabilizes fixed-capital investment. We then quantify the long-run effects of higher public debt and find little crowding out of capital, but a sizable decline of the liquidity premium, which increases the fiscal burden of debt. We show that the revenue-maximizing level of public debt is positive and has increased to 60 percent of GDP post-2010.