We explore the idea that the financial sector can be a source of non-fundamental risk to the rest of the economy. We also consider whether policy can be used to reduce this risk—either by increasing the supply of publicly backed safe assets or by reducing the demand for safe assets.
We study optimal monetary policy in an analytically tractable Heterogeneous Agent New Keynesian model. In the model, the central bank has an incentive to reduce consumption inequality in addition to keeping economic activity at its efficient level and inflation stable.
The secular decline in real interest rates has created a challenge for monetary policy, now confronting the zero lower bound more often. An increase in the supply of safe assets reduces downward pressure on the natural interest rate. This allows monetary policy to reach price stability and full employment, but not without cost—permanently lower investment.
We show that changes in sentiment that aren’t related to fundamentals can drive persistent macroeconomic fluctuations even when all economic agents are rational. Changes in sentiment can also affect how fundamental shocks affect macroeconomic outcomes.