Concerns about deflation – falling prices of goods and services – are rooted in the view that it is very costly. This column tests the historical link between output growth and deflation in a sample covering 140 years for up to 38 economies. The evidence suggests that this link is weak and derives largely from the Great Depression. The authors find a stronger link between output growth and asset price deflations, particularly during postwar property price deflations. There is no evidence that high debt has so far raised the cost of goods and services price deflations, in so-called debt deflations. The most damaging interaction appears to be between property price deflations and private debt.
Claudio Borio, Magdalena Erdem, Andrew Filardo, Boris Hofmann, Saturday, April 11, 2015
Olivier Blanchard, Friday, October 3, 2014
Before the 2008 crisis, the mainstream worldview among US macroeconomists was that economic fluctuations were regular and essentially self-correcting. In this column, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard explains how this benign view of fluctuations took hold in the profession, and what lessons have been learned since the crisis. He argues that macroeconomic policy should aim to keep the economy away from ‘dark corners’, where it can malfunction badly.
Mickey Levy, Friday, February 21, 2014
A popular view among economic commentators is that rich countries face a serious risk of deflation, and should adopt aggressive macroeconomic stimulus policies to ward it off. This column argues that despite similar headline inflation rates, the US, Europe, and Japan in fact face very different macroeconomic conditions. In the US, much of the recent disinflation is attributable to positive supply-side developments. In Europe, an aggressive round of quantitative easing might encourage policymakers to delay the reforms that are necessary to avoid a prolonged Japanese-style malaise.
Richard Wood, Thursday, March 3, 2011
The US, Japan, and Ireland are threatened by the spectres of deficient private demand, rising debt, and a tendency to deflation. This column questions current monetary policy directions, i.e. quantitative easing, and argues that printing money to directly finance fiscal stimulus may be a better option.
Enrique G. Mendoza, Thursday, February 12, 2009
This column rehabilitates Irving Fisher’s debt-deflation theory to explain the current crisis. It suggests that fiscal stimulus will do little to prevent the crisis from becoming a protracted slump because the problem lies in finance. A cure will require reversing deflation and restarting the credit system.
Robert Ophèle, Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The recent rapid fall in inflation, amidst a financial crisis and a very sharp economic slowdown, has raised the spectre of deflation. But, this column argues, current dynamics in France and the euro area are actually characteristic of a much more positive disinflationary trend, resulting from a temporary correction of certain prices, such as energy prices.
Sylvester Eijffinger, Thursday, January 15, 2009
There are growing concerns about deflation. This column argues that inflation remains the far more relevant danger and cautions against lowering Eurozone interest rates too quickly
John Muellbauer, Janine Aron, Friday, October 10, 2008
The world is on the cusp of an inflation “turning point”, so the standard models are likely to go badly wrong. Recent research with better models suggests that the US inflation rate could become negative within the next 18 months.
Barry Eichengreen, Saturday, August 30, 2008
Policy makers must learn from history, but they should know which historical episodes to look to. Central bankers seem to have been focusing on the 1930s, but here one of the world’s leading macroeconomists suggests that the 1970s provides more appropriate lessons.
David E. Weinstein , Christian Broda , Monday, October 22, 2007
According to official statistics, Japan seems to have almost pulled out of its crippling deflation. The Japanese inflation statistics, however, are calculated using outdated methods that are well-known to overstate inflation. Recent research suggests that true Japanese deflation is probably 1 to 2 percentage points worse than suggested by official statistics.