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Welfare Cost of Inflation: The Role of Price Markups and Increasing Returns to Production Specialization

Chang, Juin-Jen and Lai, Ching-Chong and Liao, Chih-Hsing (2017): Welfare Cost of Inflation: The Role of Price Markups and Increasing Returns to Production Specialization.

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Abstract

Estimates of the welfare costs of moderate inflation are generally modest or small. This paper, by shedding light on increasing returns to production specialization, obtains a substantial welfare cost of 8% in an endogenous growth model of monopolistic competition with endogenous entry. Analytically, we show that the effect of inflation is aggravated (resp. alleviated) by a price markup if the degree of increasing returns to production specialization is relatively high (resp. low). Accordingly, our quantitative analysis indicates that the welfare cost of inflation exhibits an inverted U-shaped relationship with the price markup. This non-monotone is sharply in contradiction to the conventional notion. Nonetheless, the welfare cost of inflation is unambiguously increasing in the degree of increasing returns to production specialization.

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