IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Why is Inflation Skewed? A Debt and Volatility Story


  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Ricardo Hausmann


This paper studies the patterns of inflation skewness in 56 countries. Monthly data suggests that inflation is positively skewed. We investigate linkages between skewness and non-linearity, showing that concavity (convexity) will lead to negative (positive) skewness if the independent variable is symmetrically distributed. We construct a public finance model for a developing country that uses inflation tax and external borrowing as the residual means for fiscal financing. The model predicts a convex dependency of inflation on output, where inflation skewness depends positively on inflation volatility, and external debt difficulties magnify the skewness. We conclude the paper with an assessment of the patterns of inflation between 1979-1993 for the 56 countries. Overall, the patterns are consistent with the predictions of the model.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Aizenman & Ricardo Hausmann, 1994. "Why is Inflation Skewed? A Debt and Volatility Story," NBER Working Papers 4837, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4837
    Note: ITI IFM

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Policy uncertainty and private investment in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 229-242, October.
    2. Paul R. Krugman, 1988. "Market-Based Debt-Reduction Schemes," NBER Working Papers 2587, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Aizenman, Joshua & Marion, Nancy P, 1993. "Policy Uncertainty, Persistence and Growth," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(2), pages 145-163, June.
    4. Ball, Laurence & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1994. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Economic Fluctuations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(423), pages 247-261, March.
    5. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    6. Claessens, Stijn, 1990. "The debt laffer curve: Some estimates," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 18(12), pages 1671-1677, December.
    7. Aizenman, Joshua, 1993. "Soft Budget Constraints, Taxes, and the Incentive to Cooperate," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(4), pages 819-832, November.
    8. Berg, Andrew & Sachs, Jeffrey, 1988. "The debt crisis structural explanations of country performance," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 271-306, November.
    9. Calvo, Guillermo A & Leiderman, Leonardo, 1992. "Optimal Inflation Tax under Precommitment: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 179-194, March.
    10. Alesina, Alberto & Drazen, Allan, 1991. "Why Are Stabilizations Delayed?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1170-1188, December.
    11. Calvo, Guillermo A & Guidotti, Pablo E, 1992. "Optimal Maturity of Nominal Government Debt: An Infinite-Horizon Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(4), pages 895-919, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Hakan Berument & Kamuran Malatyali, 1999. "Determinants of interest rates in Turkey," Discussion Papers 9902, Research and Monetary Policy Department, Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey.
    2. Corrado, Luisa & Holly, Sean, 2003. "Nonlinear Phillips curves, mixing feedback rules and the distribution of inflation and output," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 467-492, December.
    3. Corrado, L. & Holly, S., 2000. "Piecewise Linear Feedback Rules in a Non Linear Model of the Phillips Curve: Evidence from the US and the UK," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0019, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    4. Firouzi Naeim, Peyman & Rahimzadeh, golnoush, 2013. "Inflation Skewness and Price Indexation," MPRA Paper 45968, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4837. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.