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CEP discussion paper
Debt and Incomplete Financial Markets: A Case for Nominal GDP Targeting
Kevin D. Sheedy
May 2013
Paper No' CEPDP1209:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: E21; E31; E44; E52

Tags: incomplete markets; heterogeneous agents; risk sharing; nominal gdp targeting

Financial markets are incomplete, thus for many agents borrowing is possible only by accepting a financial contract that specifies a fixed repayment. However, the future income that will repay this debt is uncertain, so risk can be inefficiently distributed. This paper argues that a monetary policy of nominal GDP targeting can improve the functioning of incomplete financial markets when incomplete contracts are written in terms of money. By insulating agents' nominal incomes from aggregate real shocks, this policy effectively completes the market by stabilizing the ratio of debt to income. The paper argues that the objective of nominal GDP should receive substantial weight even in an environment with other frictions that have been used to justify a policy of strict inflation targeting.