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The structuralist theory of imported inflation: an application to South Africa


  • Kevin Nell


This study emphasizes the importance of identifying the origin of inflation in the present context of inflation targeting by many emerging market and transition economies. The analysis shows, based on South African data, how structural (supply) and demand inflation can be distinguished. The results indicate that South Africa's inflation experience between 1973q1 and 1998q4 is characterized by two monetary regimes. During the first regime (1973q1-1984q4) the long-run cause of inflation is demand-pull. The second regime (1987q1-1998q4) represents major changes to structural ('imported') and cost-push inflation. The two-year period 1985-1986 signifies structural change from the first to the second regime. Moreover, the results in the second regime remain robust when the inflation model is subjected to 'new' out-of-sample data until 2001q2. Evidence of structural ('imported') inflation in the second regime suggests that inflation should not entirely be squeezed out of the system nor should it necessarily be kept at the lowest possible level, because some inflation may be regarded as the natural by-product of the growth and development process. South Africa's inflation experience points to several lessons for existing (and potential) emerging market and transition economies with some form of inflation targeting.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Nell, 2004. "The structuralist theory of imported inflation: an application to South Africa," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(13), pages 1431-1444.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:36:y:2004:i:13:p:1431-1444
    DOI: 10.1080/0003684042000204467

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    Cited by:

    1. Aron, Janine & Farrell, Greg & Muellbauer, John & Sinclair, Peter, 2010. "Exchange Rate Pass-through and Monetary Policy in South Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 8153, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Leonardo Vera, 2013. "Structural Inflation Redux," Ensayos Económicos, Central Bank of Argentina, Economic Research Department, vol. 1(69), pages 37-99, December.
    3. James Heintz & Léonce Ndikumana, 2010. "Working Paper 108 - Is there a Case for Formal Inflation Targeting in Sub-Saharan Africa?," Working Paper Series 245, African Development Bank.
    4. James Heintz & Léonce Ndikumana, 2010. "Is There a Case for Formal Inflation Targeting in Sub-Saharan Africa?," Working Papers wp218, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    5. World Bank, 2011. "South Africa Economic Update, November 2011," World Bank Other Operational Studies 26854, The World Bank.
    6. Durevall, Dick & Loening, Josef L. & Ayalew Birru, Yohannes, 2013. "Inflation dynamics and food prices in Ethiopia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 89-106.

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