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From Inertia to Megainflation: Brazil in the 1980s


  • Eliana Cardoso


This paper discusses the acceleration of inflation in Brazil. In the early 1980s, the Brazilian inflation rate increased in good measure because of the balance of payments crisis and because of large depreciations of the cruzeiro. The Cruzado Plan failed to stop inflation because of an extremely loose monetary policy coupled with a lack of fiscal austerity. Repeated price controls have increased the variability of inflation. More recently, the decline in tax collections and the growth of interest payments on a ballooning domestic debt have built up a massive fiscal problem. Flight from money has further aggravated Brazilian inflation. Two steps are used in explaining the Brazilian inflationary process: the analysis of price freezes in the context of sustained fiscal imbalance and the research on the consequences of different fiscal deficit financing forms. The paths of inflation and real cash balances in response to different shocks are simulated. The focus is on the effects of controls that impose a temporary reduction of the inflation rate under different choices for monetary and fiscal policies. A model of an open economy where agents can hold money, domestic bonds and inventories of goods clarifies the linkage between Brazil's growing inability to finance the public sector deficit externally after 1982 and the acceleration of inflation.

Suggested Citation

  • Eliana Cardoso, 1991. "From Inertia to Megainflation: Brazil in the 1980s," NBER Working Papers 3585, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3585
    Note: ITI IFM

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Persio Arida & André Lara Resende, 1985. "Inertial inflation and monetary reform in Brazil," Textos para discussão 85, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
    2. Rudiger Dornbusch, 1985. "Stopping Hyperinflation: Lessons from the German Inflation Experience of the 1920s," NBER Working Papers 1675, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Cardoso, Eliana A & Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1987. "Brazil's Tropical Plan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 288-292, May.
    4. Eliana Cardoso, 1989. "The Macroeconomics of the Brazilian External Debt," NBER Chapters,in: Developing Country Debt and the World Economy, pages 81-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Alain Ize & Guillermo Ortiz, 1987. "Fiscal Rigidities, Public Debt, and Capital Flight," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 34(2), pages 311-332, June.
    6. Peter J. Montiel, 1989. "Empirical Analysis of High-Inflation Episodes in Argentina, Brazil, and Israel," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 36(3), pages 527-549, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yashiv, Eran, 1998. "Capital controls policy an intertemporal perspective," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 219-245, February.
    2. Stein, Ernesto H. & Streb, Jorge M., 2004. "Elections and the timing of devaluations," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 119-145, May.
    3. Ernesto H. Stein & Jeffry Frieden & Piero Ghezzi, 2000. "Politics and Exchange Rates: A Cross-Country Approach to Latin America," Research Department Publications 3119, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    4. Garcia, Marcio G. P., 1996. "Avoiding some costs of inflation and crawling toward hyperinflation: The case of the Brazilian domestic currency substitute," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 139-159, October.
    5. Ernesto H. Stein & Jorge M. Streb, 1999. "Las elecciones y el momento de las devaluaciones," Research Department Publications 4165, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.

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