The Financial Origins of the Rise and Fall of American Inflation

77 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2020

See all articles by Itamar Drechsler

Itamar Drechsler

Wharton School, Department of Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alexi Savov

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Philipp Schnabl

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: February 15, 2020

Abstract

We propose and test a new explanation for the rise and fall of the Great Inflation, a defining event in macroeconomics. We argue that its rise was due to the imposition of binding deposit rate ceilings under the law known as Regulation Q, and that its fall was due to the removal of these ceilings once the law was repealed. Deposits were the dominant form of saving at the time, hence Regulation Q suppressed the return to saving. This drove up aggregate demand, which pushed up inflation and further lowered the real return to saving, setting off an inflation spiral. The repeal of Regulation Q broke the spiral by sending deposit rates sharply higher. We document that the rise and fall of the Great Inflation lines up closely with the imposition and repeal of Regulation Q and the enormous changes in deposit rates and quantities it produced. We further test this explanation in the cross section using detailed data on local deposit markets and inflation. By exploiting four different sources of geographic variation, we show that the degree to which Regulation Q was binding has a large impact on local inflation, consistent with the hypothesis that Regulation Q explains the observed variation in aggregate inflation. We conclude that in the presence of financial frictions the Fed may be unable to control inflation regardless of its policy rule.

Keywords: Inflation, monetary policy, banks, deposits, regulation Q

JEL Classification: E31, E32, E4, E44, E52, E58, G21, N12

Suggested Citation

Drechsler, Itamar and Savov, Alexi and Schnabl, Philipp, The Financial Origins of the Rise and Fall of American Inflation (February 15, 2020). NYU Stern School of Business, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3538569 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3538569

Itamar Drechsler (Contact Author)

Wharton School, Department of Finance ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/idrechsl/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alexi Savov

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance ( email )

Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Philipp Schnabl

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance ( email )

Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~sternfin/pschnabl/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
218
Abstract Views
1,061
rank
158,533
PlumX Metrics