Saturday, March 27, 2010

More Irritating Details About Inflation

The Phillips Curve & Accelerating Inflation

-We know what the Phillips curve is. I'm not explaining it again.
-At Y* and U*, there is no gap inflation
-When the economy is in an inflationary gap, the BoC must validate for wage inflation
-In the 1960s, the level of wage and price adjustment began to rise for any level of output (the whole phillips curve shifted to the right)
-Why? Because the original phillips curve included only gap inflation and ignored expectation inflation (which impacts wage changes, obviously)
-This newly-shifted phillips curve is called the expectations-augmented phillips curve. There is still an inverse relation between the unemployment rate and the rate of changes of nominal wages, but with the effect of expectation inflation built into the model.
-Expectation inflation is graphically represented by the height of the phillips curve above the X axis at U*

Using this new phillips curve, we can see than when there is gap inflation, and when there are expectations adding to inflation, the curve shifts up at Y*: expected inflation increases for all levels of inflation, and thus, inflation can accelerate.



Is inflation a monetary phenomenon? Was Milton Friedman correct when he said "Inflation is everywhere, and always a monetary problem"?

Does inflation have purely monetary consequences? What about its consequences- are they purely monetary?

Well... inflation on its own can be caused by either an increase in AD or a decrease in A. However, unless monetary validation is continuous, inflation will only be temporary. As such inflation is not necessarily caused by monetary issues, but continuous inflation IS.

The consequences of inflation:
1: Short run gap inflation caused by output being higher than Y*
2: Short run supply inflation caused by Y being less than Y*
3: In the long run, output will always eventually return to Y*, so inflation will only cause a change in the price level.

so... SUSTAINED inflation is everywhere, and is always a monetary problem.


REDUCING INFLATION: The process of disinflation

Accelerating Inflation is inflation. There is a positive change in the price level.
Constant Inflation is inflation. There is a positive change in the price level.
Decelerating Inflation is disinflation. There is a positive change in the price level, but at a decreasing rate.
Stopped Inflation is zero inflation. There is no change in the price level.
Reverse Inflation is deflation. There is a negative change in the price level.

How do we reduce constant inflation from occurring at Y*??? by STOPPING EXPECTATIONS
How do we reduce accelerating inflation? By NO LONGER VALIDATING CHANGES IN THE ECONOMY

both of these measures may cause short-term economic pain (recessionary gaps cause unemployment, which is both depressing for individuals, and unproductive for economies in general). However, this will eliminate sustained accelerating inflation.

But is this a good thing?

There is often questions over whether the benefits of reducing inflation outweigh the costs.

How it works:
1: remove monetary validation to eliminate the inflationary gap (which allow the SRAS to return GDP to Y*)
2: stagflation: the SRAS decreases to the point where it actually overshoots Y* due to the intensity of wage momentum. As a result, there will be a period of rising unemployment accompanied by inflation
3: recovery: wage adjustments can bring SRAS back to Y* the slow way, or the BoC can use expansionary monetary policy to bring it there faster (at the cost in inflation)

The cost of disinflation:
-Disinflation is caused by a recessionary gap
-The cost of disinflation is equal to the loss of output caused by the required recessionary gap.

The SACRIFICE RATIO is the cumulative loss of output as a percentage of potential output divided by the percentage reduction in the inflation rate.


THE COSTS OF INFLATION: Why is this bad, again?

1: Unanticipated Inflation
-Affected the distribution of income (redistributes income from creditors to debtors)
-Wage contracts: redistributes income from employers to employees if inflation is less than expected, and vice versa if inflation is higher than expected
-Pension contracts: redistributes income away from pensioners (although this can be solved by indexing pensions for inflation)

1970s: Trudeau indexed public pensions, and they have remained indexed as thus until..
1980s: Mulroney de-indexed tax brackets
2000: Chretian fully indexed tax brackets

Low versus Moderate Inflation: BC advocates low inflation
-The price signal distortion hypothesis suggests that inflation interferes with the information conveyed by price changes. As a result, market participants can have a difficult time distinguishing absolute prices from relative prices. This extra confusions created by inflation reduces market efficiency
-In PLANNING DISRUPTION, inflation interferes with retirement plans and long term contracts

With moderate inflation...
-The downward nominal wage rigidity hypothesis claims that low levels if inflation reduce economic efficiency, because real wage cuts will require nominal wage cuts, which will be resisted. Basically, if inflation is zero, a 2% cut in real wages required a 2% cut in nominal wages: workers will resist a drop in their nominal wages. However, if inflation were high enough, nominal wages could simply be maintained to the effect of reducing real wages, and this is met with much less resistance. In this way, this theory suggests that high inflation facilitates more efficient economies, because it makes it easier for employers to "trick" their employees into accepting real wage cuts.

The zero bound on nominal interest rates hypothesis claims that the BoC cannot run expansionary money policy.

AS A GENERAL RULE, healthy economies have moderate inflation (this is caused naturally by economic growth and increases in aggregate demand).

High and accelerating inflation leads to prediction problems, and arbitrary redistribution of income. It may also lead to hyperinflation. Politics, however, is usually the entity to blame for these problems.

HYPERINFLATION: This is associated with low economic growth. Why? Because hyperinflation increases transaction costs (ie: menus must be changed constantly, and holding money for transactions is risky, because that money's purchasing power can rapidly decrease)

DISINFLATION: Governments can try to use wage or price controls, but usually this doesn't work.
-Two recessions in Canada have been caused by the government of Canada attempting to slow the rate of disinflation. As such, the costs of disinflation probably outweigh the benefits unless inflation is getting seriously out of control.

DEFLATION: Like disinflation, is not a good idea.


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