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Understanding Lowflation

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  • David Andolfatto
  • Andrew Spewak

Abstract

Central banks are viewed as having a demonstrated ability to lower long-run inflation. Since the Financial Crisis, however, the central banks in some jurisdictions seem almost powerless to accomplish the opposite. In this article, we offer an explanation for why this may be the case. Because central banks have limited instruments, long-run inflation is ultimately determined by fiscal policy. Central bank control of long-run inflation therefore ultimately hinges on its ability to gain fiscal compliance with its objectives. This ability is shown to be inherently easier for a central bank determined to lower inflation than for a central bank determined to accomplish the opposite. Among other things, the analysis here suggests that for the central banks of advanced economies, any stated inflation target is more credibly viewed as a ceiling.

Suggested Citation

  • David Andolfatto & Andrew Spewak, 2019. "Understanding Lowflation," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, pages 1-26.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:00111
    DOI: doi.org/10.20955/r.101.1-26
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.20955/r.101.1-26
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Krugman, Paul, 2000. "Thinking About the Liquidity Trap," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 221-237, December.
    2. Paul Beaudry & Franck Portier, 2014. "News-Driven Business Cycles: Insights and Challenges," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(4), pages 993-1074, December.
    3. Bruce D. Smith, 1991. "Interest on Reserves and Sunspot Equilibria: Friedman's Proposal Reconsidered," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(1), pages 93-105.
    4. Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467-467.
    5. Andolfatto, David & Williamson, Stephen, 2015. "Scarcity of safe assets, inflation, and the policy trap," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 70-92.
    6. Cochrane, John H., 2014. "Monetary policy with interest on reserves," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 74-108.
    7. Andolfatto, David & Martin, Fernando M., 2018. "Monetary policy and liquid government debt," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 183-199.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies

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