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Calculating Welfare Costs of Inflation in a Search Model with Preference Heterogeneity: A Calibration Exercise

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  • Pedro de Araujo

    () (Indiana University Bloomington)

Abstract

Using U.S. cross-sectional data, this paper calculates the welfare cost of a 10% inflation for different individuals and finds that the difference in cost between the poorest 10%, measured by their expenditure share on cash goods, and the richest 10% is in the order of 176%. That is, a poor person is on average willing to forgive 176% more of their total consumption in order to have inflation reduced from 10% to 0. In absolute terms this represents a cost of 2.687% of consumption for the poorest and 0.974% for the richest. I accomplish this by introducing preference heterogeneity in a monetary search model first developed by Lagos and Wright (2005), and calibrate the model to match the expenditure share on cash goods and total expenditures for each individual type using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX) for the second quarter of 1996. I also show that this welfare difference increases to 210% (10.522% for the poorest 10% and 3.401% for the richest 10%) whenever frictions in the use of money are imposed (holdup problem). The ability to explicitly model these frictions is the advantage of using this model. Hence, inflation in this framework, as other studies have shown, acts as a regressive consumption tax; and this regressiveness is augmented with the holdup problem.

Suggested Citation

  • Pedro de Araujo, 2008. "Calculating Welfare Costs of Inflation in a Search Model with Preference Heterogeneity: A Calibration Exercise," Caepr Working Papers 2008-012, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
  • Handle: RePEc:inu:caeprp:2008-012
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lucas, Robert E., 1981. "Discussion of : Stanley Fischer, "towards an understanding of the costs of inflation: II"," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 43-52, January.
    2. Fischer, Stanley, 1981. "Towards an understanding of the costs of inflation: II," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 5-41, January.
    3. 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 733-748, September.
    4. Joydeep Bhattacharya & Joseph H. Haslag & Antoine Martin, 2005. "Heterogeneity, Redistribution, And The Friedman Rule," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(2), pages 437-454, May.
    5. Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2005. "A Unified Framework for Monetary Theory and Policy Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(3), pages 463-484, June.
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    10. Erosa, Andres & Ventura, Gustavo, 2002. "On inflation as a regressive consumption tax," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 761-795, May.
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    12. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2000. "Extensive Margins and the Demand for Money at Low Interest Rates," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 961-991, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inflation; welfare; search; holdup;

    JEL classification:

    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • E41 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Demand for Money

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