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Policies To Reduce Inflation

by Tejvan Pettinger on November 12, 2007 in inflation

Readers Question: what are the economic policies that lead to low inflation in an economy? 1. Monetary Policy In the UK and US, monetary policy is the most important tool for maintaining low inflation. In the UK, monetary policy is set by the MPC of the Bank of England. They are given an inflation target by the government. This inflation target is 2%+/-1 and the MPC use interest rates to try and achieve this target. The first step is for the MPC to try and predict future inflation. They look at various economic statistics and try to decide whether the economy is overheating. If inflation is forecast to increase above the target, the MPC will increase interest rates. Increased interest rates will help reduce the growth of Aggregate Demand in the economy. The slower growth will then lead to lower inflation. Higher interest rates reduce consumer spending because: Increased interest rates increase the cost of borrowing, discouraging consumers from borrowing and spending. Increased interest rates make it more attractive to save money Increased interest rates reduce the disposable income of those with mortgages. Higher interest rates increased the value of the exchange rate leading to lower exports and more imports.

Diagram Showing Fall in AD to Reduce Inflation

Base Rates and Inflation

Base interest rates were increased in the late 1980s / 1990 to try and control the rise in inflation. See also: An evaluation of Monetary Policy in controlling inflation Inflation notes 2. Supply Side Policies Supply side policies aim to increase long term competitiveness and productivity. For example, privatisation and deregulation were hoped to make firms more productive. Therefore, in the long run supply side policies can help reduce inflationary pressures. However, supply side policies work very much in the long term. They cannot be used to reduce sudden increases in the inflation rate. Supply side policies 3. Fiscal Policy This is another demand side policy, similar in effect to Monetary Policy. Fiscal policy involves the government changing tax and spending levels in order to influence the level of Aggregate Demand. To reduce inflationary pressures the government can increase tax and reduce government spending. This will reduce AD. 4. Exchange Rate Policy In the late 1980s the UK joined the ERM, as a means to control inflation. It was felt that by keeping the value of the pound high, it would help reduce inflationary pressures. The policy did reduce inflation, but at the cost of a recession. To maintain the value of the against the DM, the government had to increase interest rates to 15%. The UK no longer uses this as an inflationary policy. 5. Wage Control Wage growth is a key factor in determining inflation. If wages increase quickly it will cause high inflation. In the 1970s, there was a brief attempt at wage controls which tried to limit wage growth. However, it was effectively dropped because it was difficult to widely enforce.

How does monetary policy influence inflation and employment?


In the short run, monetary policy influences inflation and the economy-wide demand for goods and services--and, therefore, the demand for the employees who produce those goods and services--primarily through its influence on the financial conditions facing households and firms. During normal times, the Federal Reserve has primarily influenced overall financial conditions by adjusting the federal funds rate-the rate that banks charge each other for short-term loans. Movements in the federal funds rate are passed on to other short-term interest rates that influence borrowing costs for firms and households. Movements in short-term interest rates also influence long-term interest rates--such as corporate bond rates and residential mortgage rates--because those rates reflect, among other factors, the current and expected future values of short-term rates. In addition, shifts in long-term interest rates affect other asset prices, most notably equity prices and the foreign exchange value of the dollar. For example, all else being equal, lower interest rates tend to raise equity prices as investors discount the future cash flows associated with equity investments at a lower rate. In turn, these changes in financial conditions affect economic activity. For example, when short- and longterm interest rates go down, it becomes cheaper to borrow, so households are more willing to buy goods and services and firms are in a better position to purchase items to expand their businesses, such as property and equipment. Firms respond to these increases in total (household and business) spending by hiring more workers and boosting production. As a result of these factors, household wealth increases, which spurs even more spending. These linkages from monetary policy to production and employment don't show up immediately and are influenced by a range of factors, which makes it difficult to gauge precisely the effect of monetary policy on the economy. Monetary policy also has an important influence on inflation. When the federal funds rate is reduced, the resulting stronger demand for goods and services tends to push wages and other costs higher, reflecting the greater demand for workers and materials that are necessary for production. In addition, policy actions can influence expectations about how the economy will perform in the future, including expectations for prices and wages, and those expectations can themselves directly influence current inflation. Since 2008, with short-term interest rates essentially at zero and thus unable to fall much further, the Federal Reserve has undertaken nontraditional monetary policy measures to provide additional support to the economy. The Federal Reserve has purchased longer-term mortgage-backed securities and notes issued by certain government-sponsored enterprises, as well as longer-term Treasury bonds and notes. The primary purpose of these purchases is to try to lower the level of longer-term interest rates, thereby improving financial conditions. Thus, this nontraditional monetary policy operates through the same broad channels as traditional policy, despite the differences in implementation of the policy.