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Avoiding the inflation tax

  • Huberto M. Ennis

I study the effects of inflation on the purchasing behavior of buyers in an economy where money is essential for certain transactions (as in Lagos and Wright, 2005). A long-standing intuition in this subject is that when inflation increases, agents try to spend their money holdings speedily. The standard framework fails to capture this kind of effect (see Lagos and Rocheteau, 2005). I propose a simple modification of the model that improves it in this dimension. I assume that buyers can rebalance their money holdings only sporadically (i.e., not every period). With this minimal change in the environment, I show that higher inflation induces some buyers to spend their money faster by frontloading their consumption, searching more intensively for transactions, and buying low-quality goods. In this way, the model is able to reproduce distortions in the pattern of transactions that, traditionally, have played an important role in the evaluation of the cost of inflation.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 05-10.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:05-10
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  1. Brian Peterson & Shouyong Shi, 2006. "Money, Price Dispersion and Welfare," Working Papers tecipa-191, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  2. Ricardo Lagos & Guillaume Rocheteau, 2004. "Inflation, output and welfare," Staff Report 342, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Christopher Waller & Guillaume Rocheteau, 2005. "Bargaining in Monetary Economies," 2005 Meeting Papers 55, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Pedro Teles & Ruilin Zhou, 2005. "A stable money demand: Looking for the right monetary aggregate," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q I, pages 50-63.
  5. Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2004. "A unified framework for monetary theory and policy analysis," Staff Report 346, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Thomas M. Humphrey, 1993. "The origins of velocity functions," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 1-18.
  7. Trejos, Alberto & Wright, Randall, 1995. "Search, Bargaining, Money, and Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 118-41, February.
  8. Rubinstein, Ariel & Wolinsky, Asher, 1987. "Middlemen," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 581-93, August.
  9. Stephen Williamson, 2004. "Search, Limited Participation, and Monetary Policy," 2004 Meeting Papers 214, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Jonathan Chiu & Miguel Molico, 2007. "Liquidity, Redistribution, and the Welfare Cost of Inflation," Working Papers 07-39, Bank of Canada.
  11. Allen Head & Alok Kumar, 2004. "Price Dispersion, Inflation and Welfare," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 122247000000000241, www.najecon.org.
  12. Li, Victor E, 1997. "The Efficiency of Monetary Exchange in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(1), pages 61-72, February.
  13. Cooley, Thomas F & Hansen, Gary D, 1989. "The Inflation Tax in a Real Business Cycle Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 733-48, September.
  14. Alvarez, Fernando & Atkeson, Andrew, 1997. "Money and exchange rates in the Grossman-Weiss-Rotemberg model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 619-640, December.
  15. Miguel Molico, 2006. "The Distribution Of Money And Prices In Search Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(3), pages 701-722, 08.
  16. Guillaume Rocheteau & Randall Wright, 2005. "Money in Search Equilibrium, in Competitive Equilibrium, and in Competitive Search Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(1), pages 175-202, 01.
  17. Jonathan Chiu, 2005. "Endogenously Segmented Asset Market in an Inventory Theoretic Model of Money Demand," 2005 Meeting Papers 108, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. Aleksander Berentsen & Gabriele Camera & C hristopher W aller, 2005. "The Distribution Of Money Balances And The Nonneutrality Of Money," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(2), pages 465-487, 05.
  19. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Inflation and Welfare in the Steady State," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 561-77, June.
  20. Boragan Aruoba, S. & Rocheteau, Guillaume & Waller, Christopher, 2007. "Bargaining and the value of money," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2636-2655, November.
  21. Li, Victor E, 1995. "The Optimal Taxation of Fiat Money in Search Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(4), pages 927-42, November.
  22. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2000. "Inflation and Welfare," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 247-274, March.
  23. Alberto Trejos, 1997. "Incentives to produce quality and the liquidity of money (*)," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 355-365.
  24. Tommasi, Mariano, 1999. "On high inflation and the allocation of resources," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 401-421, December.
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