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Monopolistic competition, credibility and the output costs of disinflation programs An analysis of price controls

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  • van Wijnbergen, Sweder

Abstract

Brazil, Argentina and Israel all used price controls as part of disinflation programs in 1985-1986. In each case they were intended to break an "inertial" component of inflation. This paper focuses on a specific mechanism through which inflation inertia can emerge: the interaction between lack of credibility of government monetary policy announcements and the price setting behavior of forward looking firms. We show that this interaction can lead to inertia extending well beyond the price setting period; that is important since the price setting period is likely to be short in high inflation economies. We develop an open economy macromodel in which firms set prices before uncertainty about government monetary policy is resolved. Lack of credibility is then shown to lead to output losses during a disinflation program. We demonstrate the effects of price controls and show that their temporary use can be defended on welfare grounds. The paper analyzes asset price behavior during disinflation programs with and without price controls and the influence of credibility problems. We discuss nominal and real interest rates, the stock market and exchange rates. Finally we show that if past government policy has any information content about future government policy, cheating on current announcements of tight policy buys current employment gains during the price control period at the cost of higher inflation afterwards. Sustaining low inflation after the price control period thus requires restrictive monetary policy during the price control period.
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  • van Wijnbergen, Sweder, 1988. "Monopolistic competition, credibility and the output costs of disinflation programs An analysis of price controls," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 375-398, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:29:y:1988:i:3:p:375-398
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    1. Horn, Henrik & Persson, Torsten, 1988. "Exchange rate policy, wage formation and credibility," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1621-1636, October.
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    12. Persson, Torsten & van Wijnbergen, Sweder, 1993. "Signalling, Wage Controls and Monetary Disinflation Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(416), pages 79-97, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Reyna-Cerecero, Mario & Mavrotas, George, 2003. "Inflation, Output and Perfectly Enforceable Price Controls in Orthodox and Heterodox Stabilization Programmes," WIDER Working Paper Series 044, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Hutchison, Michael M. & Noy, Ilan, 2003. "Macroeconomic effects of IMF-sponsored programs in Latin America: output costs, program recidivism and the vicious cycle of failed stabilizations," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(7), pages 991-1014, December.
    3. Rigobon, Roberto, 2002. "Disinflation and fiscal reform: a neoclassical perspective," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 265-297, December.

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