Price inflation: Q&A

Sometimes Q&A is the best way to present new concepts. I expect this post to grow over time and welcome questions related to theoretical and empirical aspects of price inflation in developed countries. Emerging and developing countries are also of interest, especially the cases of hyperinflation.

Q1. What is it - price inflation?
In narrow sense, price inflation is a reaction of economic system to changing level of labor force. Inflation is the process which recovers personal income distribution to its natural and fixed (rigid) shape. As a monetary process, inflation is expressed in changing prices for goods and services (G&S), with the total cost of all these G&S exactly determined by real economic growth, if any, and inflation, as predefined by the change in labor force level.
In developed (capitalist) economies, prices for G&S have to interact and compete, i.e. to be governed by "invisible hand", in order to find some final (but not predetermined!) configuration, which corresponds to the total nominal cost of the G&S. This total cost (nominal GDP) is defined by real economic growth and inflation.
(Detailed explanation of price inflation as an economic phenomenon and process as well as relevant quantitative analysis are given in our papers.)

Q2. Is it possible to describe the link between inflation and labor force change using simple mathematical representation?
There exists a linear lagged relationship between inflation, π(t), unemployment, UE(t), and the change rate of labor force, dLF(t)/LF(t):

π(t+t1)= AdLF(t)/LF(t) + BUE(t+t2) + C

where A, B, and C are country-specific empirical constant (this relationship is normalized to inflation); t1 and t2 are time lags between the change in labor force and the reaction of inflation and unemployment. These lags may reach several years and there is no general rule which variable reacts first.

Q3. Is inflation an economic ill, constantly threatening economic stability?
There is no statistical or any quantitative link between inflation and real economic growth except the one, which is related to population changes. There is a formal statistical and econometric prove available in our papers that real economic growth depends only on the attained level of real GDP per capita and the change rate of population of a country-specific age. This defining age is nine years in the USA.

Q4. Is deflation harmful?
Since real economic growth and inflation are not directly related, the recession and deflation (like observed in Japan) have different sources. For example, the former process is approaching its end in Japan and real economic growth (per capita) is on its potential level (http://inflationusa.blogspot.com/2007/07/modelling-evolution-of-real-gdp-in.html). The latter process will last the next 40 years with increasing amplitude (http://inflationusa.blogspot.com/2007/08/prediction-of-cpi-inflation-in-japan.html )

Q5. Is inflation unpredictable?
Inflation can be accurately predicted at various time horizons in developed countries. Examples are the USA, Japan, France, Germany, Canada, Austria, and the UK. The accuracy of inflation prediction is completely defined by the accuracy of labor force measurements, as follows from the relationship in Q2. There are some simple means to improve current labor force estimates.

Q6. Do central bankers control inflation and inflationary expectations through clear inflation targeting?
Because inflation is completely defined by the change rate of labor force Central Banks do not control inflation as it is. They can potentially control the balance between inflation and unemployment, which are linear lagged function of the change rate of labor force.
Quantitative prediction of the history of inflation in USA is a good example that the Fed does not control inflation. The history of inflation in France demonstrates that the suppression of money supply results in elevated unemployment. So, this is an example of negative affect of central bank in sense of high unemployment balancing low inflation.

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