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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. Poterba, J.M. & Rotemberg, J.J., 1989. "Inflation And Taxation With Optimizing Governments," Working papers 521, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Alex Cukierman & Sebastian Edwards & Guido Tabellini, 1989. "Seigniorage and Political Instability," NBER Working Papers 3199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier X. Sala-i-Martin, 1997. "The Optimum Quantity of Money: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Theodore Palivos & Chong K. Yip, 1995. "Government Expenditure Financing in an Endogenous Growth Model: A Comparison," Departmental Working Papers _057, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. Thomas J. Sargent, 1981. "The ends of four big inflations," Working Papers 158, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Herschel I. Grossman, 1988. "The Political Economy of War Debts and Inflation," NBER Working Papers 2743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Barro, Robert J., 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Scholarly Articles 3451400, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1987. "The Optimal Collection of Seigniorage: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 2270, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Barro, Robert J & Gordon, David B, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 589-610, August.
  12. V.V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1993. "Optimality of the Friedman rule in economies with distorting taxes," Staff Report 158, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  14. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 2003. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 293-340, October.
  15. Marta Campillo & Jeffrey A. Miron, 1997. "Why Does Inflation Differ across Countries?," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 335-362 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  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. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
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