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The Welfare Cost of Inflation Revisited: The Role of Financial Innovation and Household Heterogeneity

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Listed:
  • Shutao Cao
  • Césaire Meh
  • José-Víctor Ríos-Rull
  • Yaz Terajima

Abstract

We document that, across households, the money consumption ratio increases with age and decreases with consumption, and that there has been a large increase in the money consumption ratio during the recent era of very low interest rates. We construct an overlapping generations (OLG) model of money holdings for transaction purposes subject to age (older households use more money), cohort (younger generations are exposed to better transaction technology), and time effects (nominal interest rates affect money holdings). We use the model to measure the role of these different mechanisms in shaping money holdings in recent times. We use our measurements to assess the interest rate elasticity of money demand and to revisit the question of what the welfare cost of inflation is (which depends on how the government uses the windfall gains from the inflation tax). We find that cohort effects are quite important, accounting for half of the increase in money holdings with age. This in turn implies that our measure of the interest rate elasticity of money is -0.6, on the high end of those in the literature. The cost of inflation is lower by one-third in the model and, as a result, lower than previously estimated in the literature that does not account for the secular financial innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Shutao Cao & Césaire Meh & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull & Yaz Terajima, 2018. "The Welfare Cost of Inflation Revisited: The Role of Financial Innovation and Household Heterogeneity," Staff Working Papers 18-40, Bank of Canada.
  • Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:18-40
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sam Schulhofer‐Wohl, 2018. "The age‐time‐cohort problem and the identification of structural parameters in life‐cycle models," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 9(2), pages 643-658, July.
    2. Orazio P. Attanasio & Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2002. "The Demand for Money, Financial Innovation, and the Welfare Cost of Inflation: An Analysis with Household Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 317-351, April.
    3. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Johannes Wieland, 2012. "The Optimal Inflation Rate in New Keynesian Models: Should Central Banks Raise Their Inflation Targets in Light of the Zero Lower Bound?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1371-1406.
    4. Daniels, Kenneth N & Murphy, Neil B, 1994. "The Impact of Technological Change on the Currency Behavior of Households: An Empirical Cross-Section Study," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(4), pages 867-874, November.
    5. Matthias Doepke & Martin Schneider, 2006. "Inflation and the Redistribution of Nominal Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(6), pages 1069-1097, December.
    6. Heer, Burkhard & Maußner, Alfred, 2012. "The Burden Of Unanticipated Inflation: Analysis Of An Overlapping-Generations Model With Progressive Income Taxation And Staggered Prices," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 278-308, April.
    7. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Johannes Wieland, 2012. "The Optimal Inflation Rate in New Keynesian Models: Should Central Banks Raise Their Inflation Targets in Light of the Zero Lower Bound?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1371-1406.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inflation: costs and benefits;

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E41 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Demand for Money

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