COVID-19, Seignorage, Quantitative Easing and the Fiscal-Monetary Nexus

Alex Cukierman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The huge fiscal expansions triggered by the corona crisis raised debt/GDP ratios to very high levels. This led some economists to reconsider the taboo on seignorage. Following a brief documentation of the crisis impact and aggregate demand policies responses the paper discusses views of academics and policymakers on seignorage. Optimal taxation considerations imply that the decision on allocating deficit financing between debt and seignorage falls within the realm of fiscal authorities—a fact that infringes on central bank (CB) autonomy. The paper explores ideas aimed at improving the tradeoff between those two principles. Implication of cross-country variations in the need to use seignorage is discussed. Comparison of the indirect contribution of quantitative easing (QE) to deficit financing with the direct contribution of seignorage implies that QE is a substitute to seignorage that preserves central bank dominance without much change in existing monetary institutions. Comparison of empirical evidence from the USA during the global financial crisis with the post-WWI German inflation supports the view that for countries experiencing deflationary pressure seignorage is more potent in moving inflation toward its target than QE. Given the current outlook temporary use of seignorage does not appear to involve a substantial risk of inflation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181–199
Number of pages19
JournalComparative Economic Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Central bank independence
  • Deficits
  • Fiscal institutions
  • Government debt
  • Inflation and deflation
  • Optimal taxation
  • Quantitative easing
  • Seignorage


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