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Inflation as a Redistribution Shock: Effects on Aggregates and Welfare

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  • Matthias Doepke

Abstract

Episodes of unanticipated inflation reduce the real value of nominal claims and thus redistribute wealth from lenders to borrowers. In this study, we consider redistribution as a channel for aggregate and welfare effects of inflation. We model an inflation episode as an unanticipated shock to the wealth distribution in a quantitative overlapping-generations model of the U.S. economy. While the redistribution shock is zero sum, households react asymmetrically, mostly because borrowers are younger on average than lenders. As a result, inflation generates a decrease in labour supply as well as an increase in savings. Even though inflation-induced redistribution has a persistent negative effect on output, it improves the weighted welfare of domestic households.

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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series UCLA Economics Online Papers with number 412.

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Handle: RePEc:cla:uclaol:412

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Cited by:
  1. Sunel, Enes, 2012. "Transitional Dynamics of Disinflation in a Small Open Economy with Heterogeneous Agents," MPRA Paper 39690, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Joshua Aizenman & Nancy Marion, 2009. "Using Inflation to Erode the U.S. Public Debt," NBER Working Papers 15562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Yaz Terajima & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Cesaire Meh, 2008. "Aggregate and Welfare Effects of Redistribution of Wealth Under Inflation and Price-Level Targeting," 2008 Meeting Papers 381, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Sunel, Enes, 2010. "On inflation, wealth inequality and welfare in emerging economies," MPRA Paper 25943, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Scott J. Dressler, 2011. "A Long-Run, Short-Run and Politico-Economic Analysis of the Welfare Costs of Inflation," Villanova School of Business Department of Economics and Statistics Working Paper Series 16, Villanova School of Business Department of Economics and Statistics.

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