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Inflation, Nominal Portfolios, and Wealth Redistribution in Canada

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  • Césaire Meh
  • Yaz Terajima

Abstract

There is currently a policy debate on potential refinements to monetary policy regimes in countries with low and stable inflation such as the U.S. and Canada. For example, in Canada, a systematic review of the current inflation targeting framework is underway. An issue that has generally received relatively less attention in this debate is the redistributional effects of inflation. This omission is likely to be important since the welfare costs of inflation depend not only on aggregate effects but also on redistributional consequences. The goal of this paper is to contribute to this policy debate by assessing the redistributional effects of inflation in Canada that arise through the revaluation of nominal assets and liabilities.We find that the redistributional effects of inflation are sizeable even for low and moderate inflation episodes. The main winners are young middle-class households with substantial amounts of mortgage debt. Besides young households, inflation also represents a windfall gain for the government because of its long-term debt. Old households, rich households, and the middle-aged middle-class lose from inflation, largely due to their sizeable holdings of bonds and non-indexed defined benefit pension assets.

Suggested Citation

  • Césaire Meh & Yaz Terajima, 2008. "Inflation, Nominal Portfolios, and Wealth Redistribution in Canada," Staff Working Papers 08-19, Bank of Canada.
  • Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:08-19
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2005. "Taxes, Regulations, and the Value of U.S. and U.K. Corporations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 767-796.
    2. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sergio, 2006. "Government finance in the wake of currency crises," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 401-440, April.
    3. Erosa, Andres & Ventura, Gustavo, 2002. "On inflation as a regressive consumption tax," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 761-795, May.
    4. Mats Persson & Torsten Persson & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1996. "Debt, Cash Flow and Inflation Incentives: A Swedish Example," NBER Working Papers 5772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Bach, G L & Stephenson, James B, 1974. "Inflation and the Redistribution of Wealth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(1), pages 1-13, February.
    6. Allan M. Maslove & J. C. R. Rowley, 1975. "Inflation and Redistribution," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 8(3), pages 399-409, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael, Hatcher, 2013. "Aggregate and welfare effects of long run inflation risk under inflation and price-level targeting," SIRE Discussion Papers 2013-19, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    2. Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Song, Jae & Stolyarov, Dmitriy, 2013. "Macroeconomic Determinants of Retirement Timing," IZA Discussion Papers 7744, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Kryvtsov, Oleksiy & Shukayev, Malik & Ueberfeldt, Alexander, 2011. "Optimal monetary policy under incomplete markets and aggregate uncertainty: A long-run perspective," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 1045-1060, July.
    4. Hatcher, Michael, 2014. "Indexed versus nominal government debt under inflation and price-level targeting," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 126-145.
    5. Adam, Klaus & Tzamourani, Panagiota, 2016. "Distributional consequences of asset price inflation in the Euro Area," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 172-192.
    6. Meh, Césaire A. & Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor & Terajima, Yaz, 2010. "Aggregate and welfare effects of redistribution of wealth under inflation and price-level targeting," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(6), pages 637-652, September.
    7. Rodrigo Lluberas & Juan Odriozola, 2015. "Inflation, currency depreciation and households balance sheet in Uruguay," Documentos de trabajo 2015009, Banco Central del Uruguay.
    8. Klaus Adam & Junyi Zhu, 2016. "Price-Level Changes And The Redistribution Of Nominal Wealth Across The Euro Area," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 871-906, August.
    9. Césaire A. Meh & Yaz Terajima & David Xiao Chen & Tom Carter, 2009. "Household Debt, Assets, and Income in Canada: A Microdata Study," Discussion Papers 09-7, Bank of Canada.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Monetary policy framework; Sectoral balance sheet; Inflation: costs and benefits; Inflation targets; Inflation and prices;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E50 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - General

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