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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. S. Rao Aiyagari & R. Anton Braun & Zvi Eckstein, 1998. "Transaction services, inflation, and welfare," Staff Report 241, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Cooley, T.F. & Hansen, G.D., 1991. "The Welfare Costs of Moderate Inflations," Papers 90-04, Rochester, Business - General.
  6. Craig, Ben & Waller, C.J.Christopher J., 2004. "Dollarization and currency exchange," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(4), pages 671-689, May.
  7. Shouyong Shi, 1996. "A Divisible Search Model of Fiat Money," Working Papers 930, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Aleksander Berentsen & Guillaume Rocheteau & Shouyong Shi, 2004. "Friedman meets Hosios: efficiency in search models of money," Working Paper 0408, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  12. Thomas F. Cooley & Gary D. Hansen, 1987. "The Inflation Tax in a Real Business Cycle Model," UCLA Economics Working Papers 496, UCLA Department of Economics.
  13. Huberto M. Ennis, 2004. "Search, money, and inflation under private information," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 142, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2002. "A unified framework for monetary theory and policy analysis," Working Paper 0211, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  15. Ben R. Craig & Guillaume Rocheteau, 2005. "State-dependent pricing, inflation, and welfare in search economies," Working Paper 0504, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  16. 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.
  17. Aruoba, S. Boragan & Waller, Christopher J. & Wright, Randall, 2011. "Money and capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 98-116, March.
  18. 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.
  19. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
  20. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2000. "Inflation and Welfare," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 247-274, March.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Miquel Faig, 2006. "Divisible Money In An Economy With Villages," Working Papers tecipa-216, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. S. Boragan Aruoba & Randall Wright, 2002. "Search, money and capital: a neoclassical dichotomy," Working Paper 0208, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Guillaume Rocheteau & Christopher J. Waller, 2005. "Bargaining and the value of money," Working Paper 0501, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
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