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The Distributional Effects of Disinflationary Monetary Policy

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  • Willem Thorebeck

    (The Jerome Levy Economics Institute)

Abstract

Macroeconomists traditionally focus on the aggregate consequences of disinflationary monetary policy, not its distributional effects. This paper considers these distributional effects. The evidence indicates that contractionary monetary policy harms interest rate-sensitive industries by depressing output and employment and increasing the cost of capital. These industries are further hurt as declines in output and increases in the cost of capital reduce capital formation. The evidence also indicates that tight monetary policy in 1981-82 decimated the earnings of small firms. These earnings have remained at low levels since then. Finally, the evidence indicates that wealth holders are helped by contractionary monetary policy as interest rates increase and inflation declines. Before tightening monetary policy to pursue these benefits, however, policy makers should weigh carefully the damage that they will inflict on interest-sensitive sectors and small firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Willem Thorebeck, 1998. "The Distributional Effects of Disinflationary Monetary Policy," Macroeconomics 9812002, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9812002 Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on PostScript; pages: 39; figures: included
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics

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