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The Netherlands Central Bank. Photo supplied

Research reveals that monetary policies only benefit the top 1 percent

The Netherlands Central Bank published a paper recently, titled "Monetary policy and the top one percent: Evidence from a century of modern economic history". The research shows that current monetary policies accommodate only those with significant wealth, and they do so via price inflation.

Published: May 11, 2019, 10:00 am

    The Hague

    Authored by Mehdi El Herradi and Aurélien Leroy, (Working Paper No. 632, De Nederlandsche Bank NV), the paper “examines the distributional implications of monetary policy from a long-run perspective with data spanning a century of modern economic history in 12 advanced economies between 1920 and 2015, … estimating the dynamic responses of the top 1percent income share to a monetary policy shock”.

    The two authors “exploit the implications of the macroeconomic policy trilemma to identify exogenous variations in monetary conditions.” Note: the macroeconomic policy trilemma “states that a country cannot simultaneously achieve free capital mobility, a fixed exchange rate and independent monetary policy”.

    They further state that: “[T]he central idea that guided this paper’s argument is that the existing literature considers the distributional effects of monetary policy using data on inequality over a short period of time. However, inequalities tend to vary more in the medium-to-long run. We address this shortcoming by studying how changes in monetary policy stance over a century impacted the income distribution while controlling for the determinants of inequality.”

    Their research found that “loose monetary conditions strongly increase the top one percent’s income and vice versa. In fact, following an expansionary monetary policy shock, the share of national income held by the richest 1 percent increases by approximately 1 to 6 percentage points, according to estimates from the Panel VAR and Local Projections (LP).

    This effect is statistically significant in the medium run and economically considerable.”

    Moreover, the authors also demonstrated that: “the increase in top 1 percent’s share is arguably the result of higher asset prices. The baseline results hold under a battery of robustness checks, which (i) consider an alternative inequality measure, (ii) exclude the US economy from the sample, (iii) specifically focus on the post-WWII period, (iv) remove control variables and (v) test different lag numbers. Furthermore, the regime-switching version of our model indicates that our conclusions are robust, regardless of the state of the economy.”

     

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