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Inflation and welfare: a search approach

  • Ben Craig
  • Guillaume Rocheteau

This paper extends recent findings in the search-theoretic literature on monetary exchange regarding the welfare costs of inflation. We present first estimates of the welfare cost of inflation using the "welfare triangle" methodology of Bailey (1958) and Lucas (2000). We then derive a money demand function from the search-theoretic model of Lagos and Wright (2005) and we estimate it from U.S. data over the period 1900-2000. We show that the welfare cost of inflation predicted by the model accords with the welfare-triangle measure when pricing mechanisms are such that buyers appropriate the social marginal benefit of their real balances. For other mechanisms, welfare triangles underestimate the true welfare cost of inflation because of a rent-sharing externality. We also point out other inefficiencies associated with noncompetitive pricing, which matter for estimating the cost of inflation. We then illustrate how endogenous participation decisions can mitigate or exacerbate the cost of inflation, and we provide calibrated examples in which a deviation from the Friedman rule is optimal. Finally, we discuss distributional effects of inflation.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in its journal Policy Discussion Papers.

Volume (Year): (2006)
Issue (Month): Jan ()
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcpd:y:2006:i:jan:n:12
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  1. Miquel Faig, 2004. "Divisible Money in an Economy with Villages," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 248, Econometric Society.
  2. 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.
  3. Miguel Molico, 2006. "The Distribution Of Money And Prices In Search Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(3), pages 701-722, 08.
  4. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2005. "Optimal monetary policy: what we know and what we don’t know," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Oct, pages 10-19.
  5. Cooley, T.F. & Hansen, G.D., 1988. "The Inflation Tax In A Real Business Cycle Model," RCER Working Papers 155, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  6. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2000. "Inflation and Welfare," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 247-274, March.
  7. Thomas F. Cooley & Gary D. Hansen, 1991. "The welfare costs of moderate inflations," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 483-518.
  8. Aruoba, S. Boragan & Waller, Christopher J. & Wright, Randall, 2011. "Money and capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 98-116, March.
  9. Deviatov Alexei & Wallace Neil, 2001. "Another Example in which Lump-sum Money Creation is Beneficial," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-22, February.
  10. Randall Wright & Guillame Rocheteau, 2003. "Money in Search Equilibrium, in Competitive Equilibrium, and in Competitive Search Equilibrium," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000302, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2002. "A unified framework for monetary theory and policy analysis," Working Paper 0211, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  12. Huberto M. Ennis, 2005. "Search, Money, and Inflation under Private Information," 2005 Meeting Papers 135, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. S. Rao Aiyagari & R. Anton Braun & Zvi Eckstein, 1998. "Transaction services, inflation, and welfare," Staff Report 241, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Shouyong Shi, 1996. "A Divisible Search Model of Fiat Money," Working Papers 930, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  15. Boragan Aruoba, S. & Rocheteau, Guillaume & Waller, Christopher, 2007. "Bargaining and the value of money," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2636-2655, November.
  16. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1989. "On Money as a Medium of Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 927-54, August.
  17. Craig, Ben & Waller, C.J.Christopher J., 2004. "Dollarization and currency exchange," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(4), pages 671-689, May.
  18. Aleksander Berentsen & Guillaume Rocheteau & Shouyong Shi, 2007. "Friedman Meets Hosios: Efficiency in Search Models of Money," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(516), pages 174-195, 01.
  19. Arthur J. Hosios, 1990. "On The Efficiency of Matching and Related Models of Search and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 279-298.
  20. S. Boragan Aruoba & Randall Wright, 2002. "Search, money and capital: a neoclassical dichotomy," Working Paper 0208, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  21. Li, Victor E, 1997. "The Efficiency of Monetary Exchange in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(1), pages 61-72, February.
  22. 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.
  23. Lucas, Robert E., 1981. "Discussion of : Stanley Fischer, "towards an understanding of the costs of inflation: II"," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 43-52, January.
  24. Ben R. Craig & Guillaume Rocheteau, 2005. "State-dependent pricing, inflation, and welfare in search economies," Working Paper 0504, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  25. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1991. "A contribution to the pure theory of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 215-235, April.
  26. Li, Victor E, 1995. "The Optimal Taxation of Fiat Money in Search Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(4), pages 927-42, November.
  27. Guillaume Rocheteau & Randall Wright, 2003. "Inflation and Welfare in Models with Trading Frictions," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-032, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  28. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
  29. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1993. "A Search-Theoretic Approach to Monetary Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 63-77, March.
  30. Reed, Robert R. & Waller, Christopher J., 2006. "Money and Risk Sharing," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(6), pages 1599-1618, September.
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