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.
This paper revisits the question of the real effects of inflation, on the basis of the experience with 23 high inflation episodes in 17 countries. It finds strong indications that inflation had contractionary effects on a number of important macroeconomic variables, such as GDP, investment and employment. Moreover, high inflation led to a significant decline in real wages, a real depreciation and an improvement in external trade. These patterns are consistent with explanations that stress the transaction role of money, such as models with a cash-in-advance constraint. However, some observations are hard to reconcile with existing theory, especially the large magnitude of the fall in real wages.1