Danny Vinik and I talked for about 75 minutes on Tuesday evening. He did a very nice article based on our interview. One thing I talked a lot about in the interview is that of all the possible ways to handle the demand-side problem, repealing the zero lower bound is the one that leaves us best able to subsequently pursue supply-side growth. Fiscal stimulus leaves us with an overhang of government debt that then has to be worked off by painfully higher taxes or lower spending. Going easy on banks and financial firms to prop up demand (as Larry Summers at least halfway recommends in his recent speech at the International Monetary Fund) risks another financial crisis. Higher inflation to steer away from the zero lower bound (as Paul Krugman favors) messes up the price system, misdirects both household decision-making and government policy, and makes the behavior of the economy less predictable. (On Paul Krugman, also see this column.)
Let me push a little further the case that electronic money can clear the decks on the demand side so that we can focus on the supply side with this example. Suppose you firmly believed that the demand side played no role in the real economy–that the behavior of the economy could be described well by a real business cycle model, regardless of what the Fed and other central banks do, and regardless of the zero lower bound. From that point of view, in which monetary policy only matters for inflation, electronic money would still be valuable as a way of persuading others that it was OK to have zero inflation rather than 2% inflation.