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The Demand for Money, Financial Innovation, and the Welfare Cost of Inflation: An Analysis with Household Data

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  • Orazio Attanasio
  • Luigi Guiso
  • Tuillo Jappelli

Abstract

How far can shoe-leather go in explaining the welfare cost of inflation? Using a unique set of microeconomic data on households, we estimate the parameters of the demand for money derived from the generalized Baumol-Tobin model. Our data set contains information on average holdings of cash, on deposits and other interest bearing accounts, on the number of trips to the bank, on the size of withdrawals and on the ownership and use of ATM cards. We model the adoption of new transaction technologies and use these estimates to correct for the selectivity bias induced by some households choosing to hold no interest bearing assets and some to use an ATM card. The interest rate and expenditureflow elasticities of the demand for cash are close to the tehoretical values implied by standard inventory models. However, we find significant differences between the individuals with an ATM card and those without. The estimates of the demand for cash allow us to calculate a measure of the welfare cost of inflation analogous to Bailey's triangle, but based on a rigorous microeconomic framework. The welfare cost of inflation varies considerably within the population, but never turns out to be very large (about 0.1 percent of consumption or less). Our results are robust to various changes in the specification. In addition tot eh main results based on the average stock of cash held, we provide some evidence based on the number of trips to the bank and on the average withdrawals that confirm our basic findings.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6593.

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Date of creation: Jun 1998
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Publication status: published as Orazio P. Attanasio & Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2002. "The Demand for Money, Financial Innovation, and the Welfare Cost of Inflation: An Analysis with Household Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 317-351, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6593

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  1. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2000. "Extensive Margins and the Demand for Money at Low Interest Rates," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 961-991, October.
  2. Mulligan, Casey B & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1996. "Adoption of Financial Technologies: Implications for Money Demand and Monetary Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 1358, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier X. Sala-i-Martin, 1997. "The Optimum Quantity of Money: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Martin Feldstein, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Going from Low Inflation to Price Stability," NBER Working Papers 5469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Cooley, T.F. & Hansen, G.D., 1988. "The Inflation Tax In A Real Business Cycle Model," Papers 88-05, Rochester, Business - General.
  6. Gomme, Paul, 1993. "Money and growth revisited : Measuring the costs of inflation in an endogenous growth model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 51-77, August.
  7. Bomberger, William A, 1993. "Income, Wealth, and Household Demand for Deposits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 1034-44, September.
  8. Dotsey, Michael & Ireland, Peter, 1996. "The welfare cost of inflation in general equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 29-47, February.
  9. Mulligan, Casey B, 1997. "Scale Economies, the Value of Time, and the Demand for Money: Longitudinal Evidence from Firms," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(5), pages 1061-79, October.
  10. James B. Bullard & Steven Russell, 2004. "How costly is sustained low inflation for the U.S. economy?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 35-68.
  11. Fischer, Stanley, 1981. "Towards an understanding of the costs of inflation: II," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 5-41, January.
  12. Ramon Marimon & Juan Pablo Nicolini & Pedro Teles, 1997. "Electronic money: the end of inflation?," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 122, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2000. "Inflation and Welfare," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 247-274, March.
  14. Case M. Sprenkle, 1993. "The Case of the Missing Currency," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 175-184, Fall.
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