10 May 2014

Paul Krugman: Just Blame the Naysayers

Aha. I missed this, from J├╝rgen Stark, which is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen written by a former central banker: "It is likely we are living in an extended period of price stability," the former European Central Bank board member wrote in a recent op-ed for the Financial Times. "This is good news. It boosts real disposable income and will eventually support private consumption. Inflation expectations are well anchored, and there is no evidence households and companies are delaying purchases because of negative expectations. Warnings about outright deflation and calls for E.C.B. action are misguided and irresponsible. The longer this discussion continues, and the more intense it becomes, the more likely the risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy."

So, Mr. Stark began by asserting that low inflation boosts real disposable income. That's a zero-credit answer on any undergraduate exam: yes, low inflation makes income gains higher for any given rate of increase in nominal (or unadjusted) income, but low inflation reduces the rate of nominal income growth one for one. The notion that an influential former monetary official doesn't understand this is breathtaking.

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