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Innocent Bystanders? Monetary Policy and Inequality in the U.S

  • Olivier Coibion
  • Yuriy Gorodnichenko
  • Lorenz Kueng
  • John Silvia

We study the effects and historical contribution of monetary policy shocks to consumption and income inequality in the United States since 1980. Contractionary monetary policy actions systematically increase inequality in labor earnings, total income, consumption and total expenditures. Furthermore, monetary shocks can account for a significant component of the historical cyclical variation in income and consumption inequality. Using detailed micro-level data on income and consumption, we document the different channels via which monetary policy shocks affect inequality, as well as how these channels depend on the nature of the change in monetary policy.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18170.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18170
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  1. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Olivier Coibion, 2009. "Monetary Policy, Trend Inflation and the Great Moderation: An Alternative Interpretation," 2009 Meeting Papers 21, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States: 1967-2006," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 15-51, January.
  3. Olivier Coibion, 2011. "Are the effects of monetary policy shocks big or small?," Working Papers 90, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  4. Peter N. Ireland, 2005. "Changes in the Federal Reserve’s Inflation Target: Causes and Consequences," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 607, Boston College Department of Economics.
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  10. Jordi Gali, 1999. "Technology, Employment, and the Business Cycle: Do Technology Shocks Explain Aggregate Fluctuations?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 249-271, March.
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  17. Kozicki, Sharon & Tinsley, P.A., 2009. "Perhaps the 1970s FOMC did what it said it did," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 842-855, September.
  18. Dirk Kreuger & Fabrizio Perri, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory," Working Papers 02-15, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  19. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
  20. Andrés Erosa & Gustavo Ventura, 2000. "On Inflation as a Regressive Consumption Tax," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 20001, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
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