Friday, March 8, 2013

The Consequences of Denial

From mine of 13 Feb 2012:

Anyway, Bullard. He says if we overestimate potential output and set policy by it, we will encourage excessive demand and we will get inflation like we got in the 1970s. (And, he says, inflation is already above target.)

Everybody else says the economy is not growing enough, and we don't have jobs enough, and unemployment is too high, and demand is insufficient, not excessive.

How can there be such a difference in views? I think the trouble arises from the way we explain inflation. Here's Mitchell again:

Inflation is driven by nominal aggregate demand growth that exceeds the capacity of the economy to respond in real terms – that is, to increase output.

Too much money chasing too few goods. For Billy, as for Milton and Anna, inflation is caused by excessive demand -- by demand "that exceeds the capacity of the economy to respond". Demand being excessive relative to potential output is the cause of inflation, they say. Exactly what Jim Bullard says.

If you think of inflation along those lines, and you admit we're getting inflation already, then you end up thinking that "the capacity of the economy to respond" must somehow have been crippled. You end up thinking that there must have been a sudden drop in potential output. Exactly what Jim Bullard says.

But all we need -- if we wish to undermine Jim Bullard's argument -- is to realize that demand-pull isn't the only inflation story there is. There is also a cost-push inflation.

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