Time consistent collection of optimal seigniorage: A unifying framework

Berthold Herrendorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This paper reviews the existing literature on the time consistency problem of seigniorage collection when monetary policy is determined by optimal taxation considerations. It develops a unifying accounting framework and suggests a general measure for seigniorage, which encompasses the standard measures employed in the literature. In addition, the ex ante optimal solution to the optimal taxation problem is derived and interpreted in relation to the Ramsey principle. We show that the different recommendations of the public finance literature, i.e. the Friedman rule of optimal deflation, [moderately] positive inflation, and seigniorage maximizing inflation, are specific solutions to the optimal taxation problem. The paper continues with a formal illustration of the time consistency problem of the ex ante optimal policy and the characterization of the time consistent solution under discretion. As possible solutions to the time consistency problem, we consider reputational forces, institutional reforms that establish central bank independence, and specific ways of asset and debt management. In particular, it is formally shown that a modified version of the asset and debt management scheme suggested by Persson, Persson, and Svensson is not only necessary but also sufficient for optimality, although this did not hold in their model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-46
Number of pages46
JournalJournal of Economic Surveys
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Asset and debt management
  • Inflation tax
  • Optimal taxation
  • Seigniorage
  • Time consistency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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