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On the welfare cost of inflation

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  • Robert E. Lucas, Jr.

Abstract

Estimates are provided for the social cost of inflation in the U.S. economy. The estimated cost, expressed as a fraction of income, is proportional to the square root of the nominal interest rate. This approximation assigns much higher costs to low rates of inflation than does the familiar welfare triangle formula. ; These estimates are rationalized using Sidrauski's model, in which real balances yield utility, and also using the McCallum-Goodfriend model, in which real balances and time are combined via a transactions technology to support a given spending flow. The latter formulation is related to the Baumol and Miller-Orr inventory-theoretic models of money demand. Second-best modifications to take into account fiscal complications are also considered, but turn out to be quantitatively minor.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 1994. "On the welfare cost of inflation," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 94-07, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfap:94-07
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    Keywords

    Inflation (Finance) ; Monetary policy;

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    1. Advanced Monetary Theory and Policy (ECON 447)

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