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Deflating the Case for Zero Inflation

Quarterly Review 1431 | Spring 1990

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S. Rao Aiyagari

Deflating the Case for Zero Inflation


This paper analyzes the U.S. congressional proposal to instruct the Federal Reserve to, in the next five years, lower inflation to zero from its current rate of around 5 percent. The paper concludes that, when other policy options are considered, the zero inflation policy is not advisable. Its benefits would be very small—possibly negative—while its costs would probably be significant. Other, more direct policy options could produce most of the same benefits with fewer costs. Among these alternative policies are deregulating interest rates on demand deposits, paying interest on financial institution reserves, lowering the federal tax rate on capital income, and indexing the federal tax code to inflation.