The Costs of Inflation Revisited

The Costs of Inflation Revisited Neoclassical treatments of inflation understate the costs associated with inflation, even at very low levels. A comparative institutions perspective that recognizes the epistemological properties of prices and the institutional process by which inflation takes place, reveals the costs of inflation to be both larger and more widespread than standard treatments suggest. This paper makes use of insights from Austrian economics, public choice theory, and the new institutional economics to argue that inflation imposes costs by undermining the coordinative properties of the price system. Not only are there the direct costs of increased economic error, but actors also divert resources away from direct want-satisfaction into attempts to either prevent or cope with the increased degree of uncertainty inflation imposes. These resource costs are best understood from a comparative institutions perspective, as traditional measures of economic well-being, such as GDP, cannot distinguish between exchanges that directly satisfy wants, and exchanges that are attempts to correct or prevent utility-diminishing activities. The analogy between these coping costs and rent-seeking behavior is explored. In addition, inflation imposes costs by undermining the coordinative properties of markets and inducing actors to, on the margin, prefer to seek wealth or allocate resources through the political process. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Review of Austrian Economics Springer Journals

The Costs of Inflation Revisited

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2003 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
Subject
Economics; Public Finance; Political Science; History of Economic Thought/Methodology
ISSN
0889-3047
eISSN
1573-7128
D.O.I.
10.1023/A:1022961324928
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Neoclassical treatments of inflation understate the costs associated with inflation, even at very low levels. A comparative institutions perspective that recognizes the epistemological properties of prices and the institutional process by which inflation takes place, reveals the costs of inflation to be both larger and more widespread than standard treatments suggest. This paper makes use of insights from Austrian economics, public choice theory, and the new institutional economics to argue that inflation imposes costs by undermining the coordinative properties of the price system. Not only are there the direct costs of increased economic error, but actors also divert resources away from direct want-satisfaction into attempts to either prevent or cope with the increased degree of uncertainty inflation imposes. These resource costs are best understood from a comparative institutions perspective, as traditional measures of economic well-being, such as GDP, cannot distinguish between exchanges that directly satisfy wants, and exchanges that are attempts to correct or prevent utility-diminishing activities. The analogy between these coping costs and rent-seeking behavior is explored. In addition, inflation imposes costs by undermining the coordinative properties of markets and inducing actors to, on the margin, prefer to seek wealth or allocate resources through the political process.

Journal

The Review of Austrian EconomicsSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 4, 2004

References

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