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Inflationary Finance and the Welfare Cost of Inflation

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  • Barro, Robert J.

Abstract

This paper applies previous theoretical and empirical results on inflation and demand for money to a study of inflationary finance and the welfare cost of inflation. The amount of revenue generated by a steady inflation is derived as a function of the inflation rate and some underlying parameters. Empirically, the revenue-maximizing rate is on the order of 140 percent per month with the corresponding revenue approximating 15 percent of national income. It is argued that hyper-inflations become unstable when the revenue-maximizing rate is exceeded. Because inflation leads to higher transaction costs (resulting from greater payment frequencies and reduced use of "money" as a payments medium), there is a net social cost attached to inflationary finance. The model implies that marginal collection costs of inflationary finance exceed 50 percent for all positive rates of inflation-hence, alternative means of raising revenue should be socially preferable. The analysis also provides estimates of the social gain from moving to the optimum quantity of money as 1-3 percent of income.

Suggested Citation

  • Barro, Robert J., 1972. "Inflationary Finance and the Welfare Cost of Inflation," Scholarly Articles 3451393, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:3451393
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Barro, Robert J, 1970. "Inflation, the Payments Period, and the Demand for Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(6), pages 1228-1263, Nov.-Dec..
    2. Friedman, Milton, 1971. "Government Revenue from Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 846-856, July-Aug..
    3. Feige, Edgar L & Parkin, Michael, 1971. "The Optimal Quantity of Money, Bonds, Commodity Inventories, and Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(3), pages 335-349, June.
    4. Stein, Jerome L, 1970. "Monetary Growth Theory in Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 85-106, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ferda Halicioglu, 2005. "Active And Passive Seigniorage Revenues: The Case For Turkey 1970-1997," Macroeconomics 0503010, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Easterly, William R & Mauro, Paolo & Schmidt-Hebbel, Klaus, 1995. "Money Demand and Seigniorage-Maximizing Inflation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(2), pages 583-603, May.
    3. Siffat Mushtaq & Abdul Rashid & Abdul Qayyum, 2012. "On the Welfare Cost of Inflation: The Case of Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 51(1), pages 61-96.
    4. repec:bas:econth:y:2012:i:3:p:37-57 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Stanley Fischer, 1983. "Seigniorage and Fixed Exchange Rates: An Optimal Inflation Tax Analysis," NBER Chapters, in: Financial Policies and the World Capital Market: The Problem of Latin American Countries, pages 59-70, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Miller, Steph & Ndhlela, Thandinkosi, "undated". "Money Demand and Seignorage Maximization before the End of the Zimbabwean Dollar," Working Papers 06934, George Mason University, Mercatus Center.
    7. Akhand Akhtar Hossain, 2009. "Central Banking and Monetary Policy in the Asia-Pacific," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 12777.
    8. Chiquiar Daniel & Ibarra-Ramírez Raúl, 2019. "Central Bank Independence and Inflation: An Empirical Analysis," Working Papers 2019-18, Banco de México.
    9. Mladenovic, Zorica & Petrovic, Pavle, 2010. "Cagan's paradox and money demand in hyperinflation: Revisited at daily frequency," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(7), pages 1369-1384, November.
    10. Pessôa, Samuel de Abreu, 2000. "Welfare characterization of monetary-applied models and three implications," FGV EPGE Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 378, EPGE Brazilian School of Economics and Finance - FGV EPGE (Brazil).
    11. repec:bas:econth:y:2012:i:3:p:58-75 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
    13. Miller, Stephen Matteo & Ndhlela, Thandinkosi, 2020. "Money demand and seignorage maximization before the end of the Zimbabwean dollar," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).

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