The Simple Analytics of Helicopter Money: Why it Works - Always

Economics, Vol. 8, August 2014, DOI: org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2014-28

53 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2014 Last revised: 8 Sep 2014

See all articles by Willem H. Buiter

Willem H. Buiter

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Columbia University; Independent Economic Adviser; Independent

Date Written: August 21, 2014


We provide a rigorous analysis of Milton Friedman’s parable of the ‘helicopter’ drop of money - a permanent/irreversible increase in the nominal stock of fiat base money rate which respects the intertemporal budget constraint of the consolidated Central Bank and Treasury - the State. Examples are a temporary fiscal stimulus funded permanently through an increase in the stock of base money and permanent QE - an irreversible, monetized open market purchase by the Central Bank of non-monetary sovereign debt.

Three conditions must be satisfied for helicopter money always to boost aggregate demand. First, there must be benefits from holding fiat base money other than its pecuniary rate of return. Second, fiat base money is irredeemable - viewed as an asset by the holder but not as a liability by the issuer. Third, the price of money is positive.

Given these three conditions, there always exists - even in a permanent liquidity trap - a combined monetary and fiscal policy action that boosts private demand - in principle without limit. Deflation, ‘lowflation’ and secular stagnation are therefore unnecessary. They are policy choices.

Keywords: helicopter money, liquidity trap, seigniorage, secular stagnation, central bank, quantitative easing

JEL Classification: E2, E4, E5, E6, H6

Suggested Citation

Buiter, Willem H., The Simple Analytics of Helicopter Money: Why it Works - Always (August 21, 2014). Economics, Vol. 8, August 2014, DOI: org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2014-28, Available at SSRN:

Willem H. Buiter (Contact Author)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679


Columbia University ( email )

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY
United States

Independent Economic Adviser ( email )

Independent ( email )

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