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Inflation, Nominal Portfolios, and Wealth Redistribution in Canada

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  • Césaire Meh
  • Yaz Terajima

Abstract

There is currently a policy debate on potential refinements to monetary policy regimes in countries with low and stable inflation such as the U.S. and Canada. For example, in Canada, a systematic review of the current inflation targeting framework is underway. An issue that has generally received relatively less attention in this debate is the redistributional effects of inflation. This omission is likely to be important since the welfare costs of inflation depend not only on aggregate effects but also on redistributional consequences. The goal of this paper is to contribute to this policy debate by assessing the redistributional effects of inflation in Canada that arise through the revaluation of nominal assets and liabilities.We find that the redistributional effects of inflation are sizeable even for low and moderate inflation episodes. The main winners are young middle-class households with substantial amounts of mortgage debt. Besides young households, inflation also represents a windfall gain for the government because of its long-term debt. Old households, rich households, and the middle-aged middle-class lose from inflation, largely due to their sizeable holdings of bonds and non-indexed defined benefit pension assets.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Bank of Canada in its series Working Papers with number 08-19.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:08-19

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Related research

Keywords: Monetary policy framework; Sectoral balance sheet; Inflation: costs and benefits; Inflation targets; Inflation and prices;

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References

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  1. Persson, Mats & Persson, Torsten & Svensson, Lars E O, 1996. "Debt, Cash Flow and Inflation Incentives: A Swedish Example," CEPR Discussion Papers 1488, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Bach, G L & Stephenson, James B, 1974. "Inflation and the Redistribution of Wealth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(1), pages 1-13, February.
  3. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2005. "Taxes, regulations, and the value of U.S. and U.K. corporations," Staff Report 309, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2003. "Government Finance in the Wake of Currency Crises," RCER Working Papers 501, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  5. Erosa, Andres & Ventura, Gustavo, 2002. "On inflation as a regressive consumption tax," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 761-795, May.
  6. Allan M. Maslove & J. C. R. Rowley, 1975. "Inflation and Redistribution," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 8(3), pages 399-409, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael Hatcher, 2013. "Aggregate and welfare effects of long run inflation risk under inflation and price-level targeting," Working Papers 2013_03, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  2. Michael Hatcher, 2013. "Indexed versus nominal government debt under inflation and price-level targeting," Working Papers 2013_11, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  3. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Jae Song & Dmitriy Stolyarov, 2013. "Macroeconomic Determinants of Retirement Timing," NBER Working Papers 19638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Meh, Césaire A. & Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor & Terajima, Yaz, 2010. "Aggregate and welfare effects of redistribution of wealth under inflation and price-level targeting," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 637-652, September.
  5. Césaire A. Meh & Yaz Terajima & David Xiao Chen & Tom Carter, 2009. "Household Debt, Assets, and Income in Canada: A Microdata Study," Discussion Papers 09-7, Bank of Canada.

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