How does monetary policy affect income and wealth inequality?

From a new paper by Yannis Dafermos and Christos Papatheodorou:

“The recent empirical literature on the distributional effects of monetary policy on inequality has focused on the various channels through which a change in the policy interest rate or the central bank asset purchases affect income and wealth inequality. Although most studies show that expansionary (contractionary) conventional policy tends to reduce (increase) income inequality (see Coibion et al., 2017; Mumtaz and Theophilopoulou, 2017; Furceri et al., 2018; Guerello, 2018; Ampudia et al., 2018), there is no consensus on whether these effects are economically significant. In addition, there is no consensus about (i) the size and the direction of the effects of conventional monetary policy on wealth inequality and (ii) the distributional impact of quantitative easing (see e.g. Saiki and Frost, 2014; Domaski et al., 2016; Montecino and Epstein, 2017; Mumtaz and Thephilopoulou, 2017; O’Farrell and Rawdanowicz, 2016; Ampudia et al., 2018; Casiraghi et al., 2018; Guerello, 2018; Koedijk, 2018). This comes as no surprise: the magnitude of the distribution channels of monetary policy depends on a number of factors which influence the impact of these channels across countries and time periods. For example, it has been shown that the effect of monetary policy on inequality depends on the initial wealth distribution and the composition of household financial assets (O’Farrell and Rawdanowicz, 2017; Guerello, 2018), the initial wage share (Furceri et al., 2018) and the marginal propensity to consume (Ampudia et al., 2018).

Despite these recent developments in the empirical literature, there is currently no theoretical model that incorporates the key distribution channels of monetary policy simultaneously and is capable of analysing in a systematic way the exact conditions under which monetary policy has economically significant effects on inequality. This paper develops such a model by combining the agent-based (AB) and the stock-flow consistent (SFC) approaches to macroeconomic modelling. The SFC approach is characterised by the explicit incorporation of accounting principles into dynamic macro modelling and the emphasis that it places on the dynamic interplay between monetary stocks and flows (see Godley and Lavoie, 2007a). The AB approach is suitable for exploring how macroeconomic phenomena emerge out of the interactions between heterogeneous agents. It has been recently argued that the combination of agent-based and stockflow consistent approaches is a fruitful avenue for the reconstruction of macroeconomics, moving beyond the conventional representative agents framework (see e.g. van der Hoog and Dawid, 2015; Caiani et al., 2016).”

Posted by at 1:04 PM

Labels: Inclusive Growth


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