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Deflation: Prevention and Cure

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  • Buiter, Willem H.

Abstract

After an absence of almost half a century, the spectre of deflation is once again haunting the corridors of central banks and finance ministries in the industrial world. While preventing or combating deflation poses some unique difficulties not present in preventing or combating inflation, deflation can be prevented and, if it has taken hold, can be overcome, using conventional instruments of monetary and fiscal policy. These include open market purchases of government securities and monetary financing of government deficits caused by expansionary fiscal measures. Base money-financed tax cuts or transfer payments – the mundane version of Friedman’s helicopter drop of money – will always boost aggregate demand. Unconventional monetary and fiscal measures are also available. These include open market purchases of private and foreign securities, negative nominal interest rates (through a carry tax on currency) and intertemporal terms of trade shifting temporary tax measures aimed at shifting private consumption from the future to the present, such as a cut in VAT today coupled to the credible commitment of a VAT increase in the future. Such measures may be helpful, but are not necessary to get the job done. Deflation results from a combination of bad luck and poor economic management, including the failure to coordinate monetary and fiscal policy. Sustained unwanted deflation is evidence of policy failure. Both the knowledge and the tools exist to prevent unwanted deflation.

Suggested Citation

  • Buiter, Willem H., 2003. "Deflation: Prevention and Cure," CEPR Discussion Papers 3869, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3869
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    Cited by:

    1. Joerg Bibow, 2004. "Fiscal Consolidation Contrasting Strategies & Lessons from International Experience," Macroeconomics 0402014, EconWPA.
    2. Eckhard Hein & Thorsten Schulten & Achim Truger, 2004. "Wage trends and deflation risks in Germany and Europe," Macroeconomics 0412008, EconWPA.
    3. Claudio Morana, 2005. "The Japanese deflation: has it had real effects? Could it have been avoided?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(12), pages 1337-1352.
    4. Alfonso Palacio-Vera, 2006. "On Lower-bound Traps: A Framework for the Analysis of Monetary Policy in the ÒAgeÓ of Central Banks," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_478, Levy Economics Institute.
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    6. Romain Veyrune, 2005. "Le prix de la fixité : Application à l'Union monétaire des Caraïbes orientales et à la Zone franc," Mondes en développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 130(2), pages 63-76.
    7. Junning Cai, 2004. "Liquidity Trap Prevention and Escape: A Simple Proposition," Macroeconomics 0402033, EconWPA.
    8. Roy Cromb & Emilio Fernandez-Corugedo, 2004. "Long-term interest rates, wealth and consumption," Bank of England working papers 243, Bank of England.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    deflation; policy effectiveness; zero bound;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics

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