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Monetary Policy and Inequality

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 01-01-2021
The article provides a literature review of studies of the impact of monetary policy on income and wealth inequality. Based on the analysis and systematization of the articles mainly written over the past 25–30 years as well as articles written by central bank authorities, the main approaches to assessing the extent to which the Fed's actions are responsible for the growth of wealth inequality in the United States, which began in the 1970s, are identified. It was revealed that the relative unanimity of economists on this issue was replaced by significant pluralism of opinions after the crisis of 2007–2009. Among other reasons this was caused by the activity of central banks and their use of non-conventional approaches in conducting the monetary policy. In addition, the channels through which the actions of central banks affect the distribution of wealth in the economy are identified. In total, five such channels were singled out. Thus, changes in the monetary policy affect the debt market and the structure of assets and liabilities of households, while households with fixed incomes and with a high propensity to use cash are more likely to suffer losses during the expansionary monetary policy. And the fifth channel, which is less popular among the economists, the "Cantillon effect", leads to an increase in the wealth of the first recipients of the issued money at the expense of those who are farthest from the center of emission. The article provides empirical evidence of why this effect is significant for the American economy, and theoretical arguments indicating that taking the Cantillon effect into account can add certainty to studies of both monetary policy costs and institutional changes caused by rising inequality.
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