Did Inflation Really Soar After the Euro Cash Changeover? Indirect Evidence from ATM Withdrawals
The introduction of the euro notes and coins during the first months of 2002 was followed by a lively debate on the alleged inflationary effects of the new currency. In Italy, as in the rest of the euro area, survey-based measures signaled a much sharper rise in inflation than measured by the official price indices, whose quality was called into question. In this paper we gather indirect evidence on the behaviour of prices from the analysis of cash withdrawals from ATM and their determinants. Since these data do not rely on official inflation statistics, they provide an independent check for the latter. We present a simple theoretical model in which the relationship between aggregate ATM withdrawals and aggregate expenditure is not homogenous of degree one in the price level, a prediction which is strongly supported by the data. This feature allows us to test the hypothesis that, after the introduction of the euro notes and coins, consumer prices underwent an increase not recorded by official inflation statistics. We do not find evidence in support of this hypothesis.
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