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Inflation and the size of government

  • Song Han
  • Casey B. Mulligan

It is commonly supposed in public and academic discourse that inflation and big government are related. The authors show that economic theory delivers such a prediction only in special cases. As an empirical matter, inflation is significantly positively related to the size of government mainly when periods of war and peace are compared. The authors find a weak positive peacetime time series correlation between inflation and the size of government and a negative cross-country correlation of inflation with non-defense spending.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2008)
Issue (Month): May ()
Pages: 245-267

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2008:i:may:p:245-267:n:v.90no.3,pt.2
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  1. Correia, Isabel & Teles, Pedro, 1996. "Is the Friedman rule optimal when money is an intermediate good?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 223-244, October.
  2. Marta Campillo & Jeffrey A. Miron, 1996. "Why Does Inflation Differ Across Countries?," NBER Working Papers 5540, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Poterba, James M & Rotemberg, Julio J, 1990. "Inflation and Taxation with Optimizing Governments," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 22(1), pages 1-18, February.
  4. Woodford, Michael, 1990. "The optimum quantity of money," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: B. M. Friedman & F. H. Hahn (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 20, pages 1067-1152 Elsevier.
  5. Mulligan, Casey B & Sala-I-Martin, Xavier X, 1997. "The Optimum Quantity of Money: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(4), pages 687-715, November.
  6. Mulligan Casey B & Sala-i-Martin Xavier, 2004. "Internationally Common Features of Public Old-Age Pensions, and Their Implications for Models of the Public Sector," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-37, May.
  7. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1981. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural-Rate Model," NBER Working Papers 0807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Alesina, Alberto & Summers, Lawrence H, 1993. "Central Bank Independence and Macroeconomic Performance: Some Comparative Evidence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 25(2), pages 151-62, May.
  9. Palivos, Theodore & Yip, Chong K, 1995. "Government Expenditure Financing in an Endogenous Growth Model: A Comparison," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1159-78, November.
  10. Thomas J. Sargent, 1981. "The ends of four big inflations," Working Papers 158, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. Kimbrough, Kent P., 1986. "The optimum quantity of money rule in the theory of public finance," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 277-284, November.
  12. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1999. "Social Security in Theory and Practice (I): Facts and Political Theories," NBER Working Papers 7118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Alesina, Alberto & Tabellini, Guido, 1987. "Rules and Discretion with Noncoordinated Monetary and Fiscal Policies," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(4), pages 619-30, October.
  15. Cukierman, Alex & Edwards, Sebastian & Tabellini, Guido, 1992. "Seigniorage and Political Instability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 537-55, June.
  16. Chari, V. V. & Christiano, Lawrence J. & Kehoe, Patrick J., 1996. "Optimality of the Friedman rule in economies with distorting taxes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 203-223, April.
  17. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1987. "The optimal collection of seigniorage : Theory and evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 327-341, September.
  18. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
  19. Herschel I. Grossman, 1988. "The Political Economy of War Debts and Inflation," NBER Working Papers 2743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Gary S. Becker & Casey B. Mulligan, 1998. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," NBER Working Papers 6789, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
  22. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
  23. Faig, Miquel, 1988. "Characterization of the optimal tax on money when it functions as a medium of exchange," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 137-148, July.
  24. Carlos A. Végh, 1989. "Government Spending and Inflationary Finance: A Public Finance Approach," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 36(3), pages 657-677, September.
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