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Uncertainty and Hyperinflation: European Inflation Dynamics after World War I

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  • Jose A. Lopez
  • Kris James Mitchener

Abstract

Fiscal deficits, elevated debt-to-GDP ratios, and high inflation rates suggest hyperinflation could have potentially emerged in many European countries after World War I. We demonstrate that economic policy uncertainty was instrumental in pushing a subset of European countries into hyperinflation shortly after the end of the war. Germany, Austria, Poland, and Hungary (GAPH) suffered from frequent uncertainty shocks – and correspondingly high levels of uncertainty – caused by protracted political negotiations over reparations payments, the apportionment of the Austro-Hungarian debt, and border disputes. In contrast, other European countries exhibited lower levels of measured uncertainty between 1919 and 1925, allowing them more capacity with which to implement credible commitments to their fiscal and monetary policies. Impulse response functions show that increased uncertainty caused a rise in inflation contemporaneously and for a few months afterward in GAPH, but this effect was absent or much more limited for the other European countries in our sample. Our results suggest that elevated economic uncertainty directly affected inflation dynamics and the incidence of hyperinflation during the interwar period.

Suggested Citation

  • Jose A. Lopez & Kris James Mitchener, 2018. "Uncertainty and Hyperinflation: European Inflation Dynamics after World War I," NBER Working Papers 24624, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24624
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    Cited by:

    1. Hartwell, Christopher A., 2019. "Short waves in Hungary, 1923 and 1946: Persistence, chaos, and (lack of) control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 532-550.
    2. Gabriel P. Mathy, 2020. "How much did uncertainty shocks matter in the Great Depression?," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 14(2), pages 283-323, May.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-

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