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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. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2005. "Optimal Monetary Policy: What We Know And What We Don'T Know," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(2), pages 715-729, 05.
  2. Cooley, T.F. & Hansen, G.D., 1988. "The Inflation Tax In A Real Business Cycle Model," Papers 88-05, Rochester, Business - General.
  3. S. Rao Aiyagari & R. Anton Braun & Zvi Eckstein, 1998. "Transaction Services, Inflation, and Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1274-1301, December.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. S. Boragan Aruoba & Randall Wright, 2003. "Search, money, and capital: a neoclassical dichotomy," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 1085-1117.
  8. Guillaume Rocheteau & Randall Wright, 2004. "Money in search equilibrium, in competitive equilibrium, and in competitive search equilibrium," Working Paper 0405, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  9. Shouyong Shi, 1997. "A Divisible Search Model of Fiat Money," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(1), pages 75-102, January.
  10. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
  11. Ennis, Huberto M., 2008. "Search, money, and inflation under private information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 138(1), pages 101-131, January.
  12. Cooley, Thomas F & Hansen, Gary D, 1991. "The Welfare Costs of Moderate Inflations," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 483-503, August.
  13. Michael Dotsey & Peter Ireland, 1994. "The welfare cost of inflation in general equilibrium," Working Paper 94-04, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  14. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & Randall Wright, 1989. "A contribution to the pure theory of money," Staff Report 123, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Ben R. Craig & Guillaume Rocheteau, 2005. "State-dependent pricing, inflation, and welfare in search economies," Working Paper 0504, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Craig, Ben & Waller, C.J.Christopher J., 2004. "Dollarization and currency exchange," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(4), pages 671-689, May.
  21. Hosios, Arthur J, 1990. "On the Efficiency of Matching and Related Models of Search and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 279-98, April.
  22. 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.
  23. Miquel Faig, 2004. "Divisible Money in an Economy with Villages," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000159, UCLA Department of Economics.
  24. Aleksander Berentsen & Guillaume Rocheteau & Shouyong Shi, 2002. "Friedman Meets Hosios: Efficiency in Search Models of Money," Working Papers shouyong-02-04, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  25. S. Boragan Aruoba & Christopher J. Waller & Randall Wright, 2007. "Money and capital," Working Paper 0714, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  26. Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2002. "A unified framework for monetary theory and policy analysis," Working Paper 0211, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2000. "Inflation and Welfare," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 247-274, March.
  30. 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.
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