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Israel and the World EconomyThe Power of Globalization$
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Assaf Razin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780262037341

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262037341.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Swell and Retreat of High Inflation

Swell and Retreat of High Inflation

(p.5) 1 Swell and Retreat of High Inflation
Israel and the World Economy

Assaf Razin

The MIT Press

Israel's high inflation calamity amounted to a crisis of political and economic institutions. Failing economic governance made it essential for the government to raise revenue through money expansion. At the time when the newly elected government was catering to populistic demands, the printing press was used to finance the fast-expanding government spending and transfers. The central lesson from the Friedman (1971) is that steady-state seigniorage from revenue maximizing central bank is small. However, Israel, as well as previous historical episodes, offer a counter example. Inflation spikes can be a significant source for government revenue. Following almost 8 years of the hyperinflation economic chaos, the Israeli voters brought about some major political rebalancing towards the political center. Sargent (2009) argues that high inflation can be stopped quickly, and at a low cost. His argument is that inflationary expectations are quick to adjust when the economic regime shifts considerably. The temptation not to stop inflation in its tracks may be irresistible. Similarly, if the government surprise market participants by abrupt stopping of hyperinflation in the presence of entrenched inflation expectations, the fiscal burden of public sector wage bill and subsidies to basic food must rise. Therefore, the government may hesitate to do so. To overcome this difficulty there must be a full-fledged social agreement between the government, savers (who hold government bonds), public sector wage earners, and recipients of food subsidies. To fix the inflated outlays on debt service, wage bill, and subsidies, some major redistribution of income must accompany the inflation-halting step. This is in essence the lesson from Israel’s inflation stabilization policy.

Keywords:   Hyperinflation, Time Inconsistency, Seigniorage, Credible Stabilization Program

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