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Deflation and Monetary Policy in a Historical Perspective: Remembering the Past or Being Condemned to Repeat It?

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  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Andrew Filardo

Abstract

What does the historical record tell us about how to conduct monetary policy in a deflationary environment? We present a broad cross-country historical study of deflation over the past two centuries in order to shed light on current policy challenges. We first review the theoretical literature on deflation. We then characterize deflation by distinguishing among the "good, the bad and the ugly" ones - considering both empirical determinants and historical narratives of each type. Emphasis is put on the linkages between the current inflation environment and that of the gold standard period. Particular attention is also put on what the historical record reveals about policies to escape undesirable deflation. In this regard we develop a policy typology based on the relative merits of interest rate and monetary instruments in combating different types of inflation/deflation behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Bordo & Andrew Filardo, 2004. "Deflation and Monetary Policy in a Historical Perspective: Remembering the Past or Being Condemned to Repeat It?," NBER Working Papers 10833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10833
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bordo, Michael D. & Choudhri, Ehsan U. & Schwartz, Anna J., 2002. "Was Expansionary Monetary Policy Feasible during the Great Contraction? An Examination of the Gold Standard Constraint," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-28, January.
    2. Kenneth J. McLaughlin, 1999. "Are nominal wage changes skewed away from wage cuts?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 117-132.
    3. Bernanke, Ben S, 1995. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 1-28, February.
    4. Lars E. O. Svensson, 1999. "How should monetary policy be conducted in an era of price stability?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 195-259.
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    Cited by:

    1. Claudio Morana, 2005. "The Japanese deflation: has it had real effects? Could it have been avoided?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(12), pages 1337-1352.
    2. repec:zbw:cfswop:wp200706 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Goetz von Peter, 2005. "Debt-Deflation: Concepts, and a Stylised Model," Macroeconomics 0505001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Vítor Gaspar & Frank Smets & David Vestin, 2007. "Is Time Ripe for Price Level Path Stability?," Working Papers w200719, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    5. Paul Levine & Joseph Pearlman & Bo Yang, 2008. "The Credibility Problem Revisited: Thirty Years on from Kydland and Prescott," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 728-746, September.
    6. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Benjamin Pugsley, 2006. "The Mistake of 1937: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 24(S1), pages 151-190, December.
    7. Pierre L. Siklos & Yang Zhang, 2010. "Identifying The Shocks Driving Inflation In China," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(2), pages 204-223, May.
    8. Dieter Gerdesmeier & Hans‐Eggert Reimers & Barbara Roffia, 2010. "Asset Price Misalignments and the Role of Money and Credit," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 377-407, December.
    9. Dieter Gerdesmeier & Hans-Eggert Reimers & Barbara Roffia, 2011. "Early Warning Indicators for Asset Price Booms," Review of Economics & Finance, Better Advances Press, Canada, vol. 1, pages 1-19, June.
    10. Goetz von Peter, 2005. "Debt-deflation: concepts and a stylised model," BIS Working Papers 176, Bank for International Settlements.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative

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