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The Demand for Money, Financial Innovation, and the Welfare Cost of Inflation: An Analysis with Household Data

  • Orazio P. Attanasio
  • Luigi Guiso
  • Tullio Jappelli

We use microeconomic data on households to estimate the parameters of the demand for currency derived from a generalized Baumol-Tobin model. Our data set contains information on average currency, deposits, and other interest-bearing assets; the number of trips to the bank; the size of withdrawals; and ownership and use of ATM cards. We model the demand for currency accounting for adoption of new transaction technologies and the decision to hold interest-bearing assets. The interest rate and expenditure flow elasticities of the demand for currency are close to the theoretical values implied by standard inventory models. However, we find significant differences between individuals with an ATM card and those without. The estimates of the demand for currency allow us to calculate a measure of the welfare cost of inflation analogous to Bailey's triangle, but based on a rigorous microeconometric framework. The welfare cost of inflation varies considerably within the population but never turns out to be very large (about 0.1 percent of consumption or less). Our results are robust to various changes in the econometric specification. In addition to the main results based on the average stock of currency, the model receives further support from the analysis of the number of trips to and average withdrawals from the bank and the ATM.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 110 (2002)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 317-351

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:110:y:2002:i:2:p:317-351
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  1. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1995. "Adoption of financial technologies: Implications for money demand and monetary policy," Economics Working Papers 134, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier X. Sala-i-Martin & Frederic S. Mishkin & Jonas D. M. Fisher, 1997. "The optimum quantity of money: theory and evidence," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 687-724.
  3. Michael Dotsey & Peter Ireland, 1994. "The welfare cost of inflation in general equilibrium," Working Paper 94-04, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  4. Paul Gomme, 1991. "Money and growth revisited," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 55, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2000. "Extensive Margins and the Demand for Money at Low Interest Rates," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 961-991, October.
  6. James B. Bullard & Steven Russell, 2004. "How costly is sustained low inflation for the U.S. economy?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 35-68.
  7. Case M. Sprenkle, 1993. "The Case of the Missing Currency," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 175-184, Fall.
  8. Martin S. Feldstein, 1997. "The Costs and Benefits of Going from Low Inflation to Price Stability," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 123-166 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bomberger, William A, 1993. "Income, Wealth, and Household Demand for Deposits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 1034-44, September.
  10. 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.
  11. Mulligan, Casey B, 1997. "Scale Economies, the Value of Time, and the Demand for Money: Longitudinal Evidence from Firms," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(5), pages 1061-79, October.
  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. Ramon Marimon & Juan Pablo Nicolini & Pedro Teles, 1997. "Electronic money: the end of inflation?," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 122, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2000. "Inflation and Welfare," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 247-274, March.
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