Krugman’s blog, 6/2/15

There was one post yesterday, “The Inflationista Puzzle:”

Martin Feldstein has a new column on what he calls the “inflation puzzle” — the failure of inflation to soar despite the Fed’s large asset purchases, which led to a very large rise in the monetary base. AsTony Yates points out, however, there’s nothing puzzling at all about what happened; it’s exactly what you should expect when interest rates are near zero.

And this isn’t an ex-post rationale, it’s what many of us were saying from the beginning. Traditional IS-LM analysis said that the Fed’s policies would have little effect on inflation; so did the translation of that analysis into a stripped-down New Keynesian framework that I did back in 1998, starting the modern liquidity-trap literature.

We even had solid recent empirical evidence: Japan’s attempt at quantitative easing in the naughties, which looked like this:

I’m still not sure why relatively moderate conservatives like Feldstein didn’t find all this convincing back in 2009. I get, I think, why politics might predispose them to see inflation risks everywhere, but this was as crystal-clear a proposition as I’ve ever seen. Still, even if you managed to convince yourself that the liquidity-trap analysis was wrong six years ago, by now you should surely have realized that Bernanke, Woodford, Eggertsson, and, yes, me got it right.

But no — it’s a complete puzzle. Maybe it’s because those tricksy Fed officials started paying all of 25 basis points on reserves (Japan never paid such interest). Anyway, inflation is just around the corner, the same way it has been all these years.



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