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The price level, relative prices and economic stability: aspects of the interwar debate

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  • David Laidler

    (University of Western Ontario - Department of Economics)

Abstract

Recent financial instability has called into question the sufficiency of low inflation as a goal for monetary policy. This paper discusses interwar literature bearing on this question. It begins with theories of the cycle based on the quantity theory, and their policy prescription of price stability supported by lender of last resort activities in the event of crises, arguing that their neglect of fluctuations in investment was a weakness. Other approaches are then taken up, particularly Austrian theory, which stressed the banking system's capacity to generate relative price distortions and forced saving. This theory was discredited by its association with nihilistic policy prescriptions during the Great Depression. Nevertheless, its core insights were worthwhile, and also played an important part in Robertson's more eclectic account of the cycle. The latter, however, yielded activist policy prescriptions of a sort that were discredited in the postwar period. Whether these now need re-examination, or whether a low-inflation regime, in which the authorities stand ready to resort to vigorous monetary expansion in the aftermath of asset market problems, is adequate to maintain economic stability is still an open question.

Suggested Citation

  • David Laidler, 2003. "The price level, relative prices and economic stability: aspects of the interwar debate," BIS Working Papers 136, Bank for International Settlements.
  • Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:136
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    Cited by:

    1. Walter Block & William Barnett II, 2007. "On Laidler regarding the Austrian business cycle theory," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 20(1), pages 43-61, March.
    2. Igor Ermolaev & Michel Juillard & Ioan Carabenciov & Charles Freedman & Douglas Laxton & Ondrej Kamenik & Dmitry Korshunov, 2008. "A Small Quarterly Projection Model of the US Economy," IMF Working Papers 08/278, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Andreas Hoffmann, 2014. "Zero-interest Rate Policy and Unintended Consequences in Emerging Markets," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(10), pages 1367-1387, October.
    4. Michael D. Bordo & David C. Wheelock, 2004. "Monetary policy and asset prices: a look back at past U.S. stock market booms," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 19-44.
    5. Michael D. Bordo & John Landon-Lane, 2014. "Does Expansionary Monetary Policy Cause Asset Price Booms? Some Historical and Empirical Evidence," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Sofía Bauducco & Lawrence Christiano & Claudio Raddatz (ed.), Macroeconomic and Financial Stability: challenges for Monetary Policy, edition 1, volume 19, chapter 3, pages 61-116 Central Bank of Chile.
    6. Ioan Carabenciov & Charles Freedman & Roberto Garcia-Saltos & Douglas Laxton & Ondra Kamenik & Petar Manchev, 2013. "GPM6; The Global Projection Model with 6 Regions," IMF Working Papers 13/87, International Monetary Fund.
    7. Michel Juillard & Charles Freedman & Dmitry Korshunov & Douglas Laxton & Ondrej Kamenik & Ioan Carabenciov & Igor Ermolaev & Jared Laxton, 2008. "A Small Quarterly Multi-Country Projection Model with Financial-Real Linkages and Oil Prices," IMF Working Papers 08/280, International Monetary Fund.
    8. Philipp Bagus, 2008. "Monetary policy as bad medicine: The volatile relationship between business cycles and asset prices," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 21(4), pages 283-300, December.
    9. David Laidler, 2007. "Successes and Failures of Monetary Policy Since the 1950s," University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute Working Papers 20072, University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute.
    10. Ehsan U. Choudhri & Lawrence L. Schembri, 2013. "A Tale of Two Countries and Two Booms, Canada and the United States in the 1920s and the 2000s: The Roles of Monetary and Financial Stability Policies," Working Paper series 44_13, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    11. Andreas Hoffmann, 2014. "Zero-Interest Rate Policy and Unintended Consequences in Emerging Markets," ICER Working Papers 02-2014, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    12. Jared Laxton & Igor Ermolaev & Charles Freedman & Ondrej Kamenik & Michel Juillard & Douglas Laxton & Ioan Carabenciov & Dmitry Korshunov, 2008. "A Small Quarterly Multi-Country Projection Model," IMF Working Papers 08/279, International Monetary Fund.
    13. Michel Bordo & John Lando-Lane, 2013. "Does Expansionary Monetary Policy Cause Asset Price Booms? Some Historical and Empirical Evidence," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 710, Central Bank of Chile.
    14. Jacky Mallett, 2015. "Threadneedle: An Experimental Tool for the Simulation and Analysis of Fractional Reserve Banking Systems," Papers 1502.06163, arXiv.org.
    15. Nikolay NENOVSKY, 2010. "Bulgarian Economists during The Great Depression," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 286, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.
    16. International Monetary Fund, 2009. "Adding Latin America to the Global Projection Model," IMF Working Papers 09/85, International Monetary Fund.
    17. Manuelito, Sandra & Sáinz, Pedro, 2006. "Relative prices in Latin America in periods of low inflation and structural change," Revista CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), August.

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