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Inflation, growth, and central banks : theory and evidence

  • De Gregorio, Jose

The author reviews the theory and evidence on inflation and growth and provides additional empirical evidence for a large cross-section of countries. The evidence, he reports, suggests a robust negative relationship between inflation and growth. He argues that inflation limits growth mainly by reducing the efficiency of investment rather than its level. But this finding is difficult to explain using traditional theories that rely on the effects of inflation on employment, which are not supported by the data. Explanations focusing on the effects of inflation on the allocation of talents and the functioning of financial markets may help in understanding better the long-run relationship between inflation and growth. The author also reviews the theoretical and empirical literature on how central banks affect inflation and output growth. An independent central bank can be effective in reducing inflation if the public perceives that it is tough on inflation. But inflation persists because the cost of reducing it is high - the most evident cost being the loss of output from disinflation. The author concludes that although serious progress has been made in recent years in assessing empirically how central banks affect macroeconomic performance, the results are still inconclusive. The empirical evidence shows a negative correlation between inflation and central bank independence, especially in OECD countries, but the effects on growth are less conclusive. It is fair to say that the bulk of the evidence suggests that central bank independence produces lower inflation at no real costs.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1575.

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Date of creation: 29 Feb 1996
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1575
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  1. Cooley, Thomas F & Hansen, Gary D, 1989. "The Inflation Tax in a Real Business Cycle Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 733-48, September.
  2. Cabalero, R.J., 1997. "Aggregaete Investment," Working papers 97-20, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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  5. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction," Scholarly Articles 12490578, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Matthew B. Canzoneri, 1983. "Monetary policy games and the role of private information," International Finance Discussion Papers 249, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  9. Alesina, Alberto, 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-Party System as a Repeated Game," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 651-78, August.
  10. Alesina, Alberto & Summers, Lawrence H, 1993. "Central Bank Independence and Macroeconomic Performance: Some Comparative Evidence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 25(2), pages 151-62, May.
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  12. Benabou, Roland, 1988. "Search, Price Setting and Inflation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(3), pages 353-76, July.
  13. Alberto Alesina, 1988. "Macroeconomics and Politics," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1988, Volume 3, pages 13-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  18. Laurence Ball, 1994. "What Determines the Sacrifice Ratio?," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy, pages 155-193 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1981. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural-Rate Model," NBER Working Papers 0807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Cyclical Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(1), pages 85-106, February.
  21. Casella, Alessandra & Feinstein, Jonathan S, 1990. "Economic Exchange during Hyperinflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(1), pages 1-27, February.
  22. Brock, William A, 1974. "Money and Growth: The Case of Long Run Perfect Foresight," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 15(3), pages 750-77, October.
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  25. R. Anton Braun, 1994. "Another attempt to quantify the benefits of reducing inflation," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 17-25.
  26. Alesina, Alberto & Gatti, Roberta, 1995. "Independent Central Banks: Low Inflation at No Cost?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 196-200, May.
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