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Money, liquidity and welfare

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  • Wen, Yi

Abstract

This paper develops an analytically tractable Bewley model of money demand to shed light on some important questions in monetary theory, such as the welfare cost of inflation. It is shown that when money is a vital form of liquidity to meet uncertain consumption needs, the welfare costs of inflation can be extremely large. With log utility and parameter values that best match both the aggregate money demand curve suggested by Lucas (2000) and the variance of household consumption, agents in our model are willing to reduce consumption by 3–4% to avoid 10% annual inflation. The astonishingly large welfare costs of inflation arise because inflation increases consumption risk by eroding the buffer-stock-insurance value of money, thus hindering consumption smoothing at the household level. Such an inflation-induced increase in consumption risk at the micro level cannot be captured by representative-agent models or the Bailey triangle. Although the development of financial intermediation can mitigate the problem, with realistic credit limits the welfare loss of moderate inflation still remains several times larger than estimations based on the Bailey triangle. Our findings provide a strong justification for adopting a low inflation target by central banks, especially in developing countries where money is the major form of household financial wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Wen, Yi, 2015. "Money, liquidity and welfare," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 1-24.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:76:y:2015:i:c:p:1-24
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2015.01.012
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    Cited by:

    1. Sergio Salas, 2020. "Precautionary Money Demand in a Cash-in-Advance Model," Working Papers 2020-03, Escuela de Negocios y Economía, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso.
    2. Hongfei Sun & Chenggang Zhou, 2018. "Monetary and fiscal policies in a heterogeneous‐agent economy," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 51(3), pages 747-783, August.
    3. Dong, Feng & Liu, Jianfeng & Xu, Zhiwei & Zhao, Bo, 2021. "Flight to housing in China," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 130(C).
    4. Chien, YiLi & Wen, Yi, 2021. "Time-inconsistent optimal quantity of debt," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    5. YiLi Chien & Yi Wen, 2022. "Optimal Ramsey Taxation in Heterogeneous Agent Economies with Quasi-Linear Preferences," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 46, pages 124-160, October.
    6. Zhao, Bo, 2020. "COVID-19 pandemic, health risks, and economic consequences: Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    7. Chen, Yunmin & Chien, YiLi & Wen, Yi & Yang, C.C., 2021. "Are unconditional lump-sum transfers a good idea?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 209(C).
    8. Curran, Michael & Dressler, Scott J., 2020. "Preferences, inflation, and welfare," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 130(C).
    9. Dressler, Scott, 2016. "A long-run, short-run, and politico-economic analysis of the welfare costs of inflation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 47(PB), pages 255-269.
    10. Feng Dong & Yi Wen, 2017. "Optimal Monetary Policy under Negative Interest Rate," Working Papers 2017-19, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    11. Dong, Feng & Wen, Yi, 2019. "Long and Plosser meet Bewley and Lucas," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 70-92.
    12. Bernardino Adão & André C. Silva, 2021. "Government financing, inflation, and the financial sector," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 71(4), pages 1357-1396, June.
    13. Blouri, Yashar & Ehrlich, Maximilian V., 2020. "On the optimal design of place-based policies: A structural evaluation of EU regional transfers," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    14. Sergio Salas, 2017. "Asset prices and wealth inequality in a simple model with idiosyncratic shocks," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 44(1 Year 20), pages 105-119, June.
    15. Sergio Salas & Kathleen Odell, 2020. "Financial Deepening, Credit Crises, Human Capital and Growth," Working Papers 2020-01, Escuela de Negocios y Economía, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso.
    16. Grand, François Le & Ragot, Xavier, 2018. "A class of tractable incomplete-market models for studying asset returns and risk exposure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 39-59.
    17. Chang, Juin-Jen & Lai, Ching-Chong & Liao, Chih-Hsing, 2017. "Welfare Cost of Inflation: The Role of Price Markups and Increasing Returns to Production Specialization," MPRA Paper 77753, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Khan, Aubhik, 2019. "Comment on Long and Plosser meet Bewley and Lucas," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 93-95.
    19. Feng Dong & Yi Wen, 2019. "Time-Varying Networks and the Efficacy of Money Without Sticky Prices," 2019 Meeting Papers 1464, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    20. Chien, YiLi & Wen, Yi, 2022. "The determination of public debt under both aggregate and idiosyncratic uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 203(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Liquidity preference; Heterogeneous money demand; Financial intermediation; Velocity; Welfare costs of inflation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E41 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Demand for Money
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E49 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Other
    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers

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