The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Empirical data show that real wages fall sharply during periods of high inflation. This paper suggests a simple general equilibrium explanation, without relying on nominal rigidities. It presents an intertemporal two-sector model with a cash-in-advance constraint. In this setting, inflation reduces real wages through (1) a decline of the capital stock, and (2) a shift in relative prices. The two effects are additive and make the decline in real wages exceed the decline in per-capita GDP. This mechanism may contribute to rising poverty during periods of high inflation.