Introduction – monetary transmission problems
Between different schools of economics there is much confusion over the link between changes in the quantity of money and prices, exposed afresh by the collapse in GDP due to COVID-19 and the aggressive monetary response from the authorities to contain the economic consequences.
Neo-Keynesians appear to understand the link exists, but for them inflation is always of prices which can be managed by adjusting monetary policy subsequently.
Monetarists follow a mechanical quantity theory leading to a relatively straightforward relationship between changes in the quantity of money and of prices after a time lag of a year or so. The principal difference with the neo-Keynesians is in the timing: monetarists see monetary inflation occurring long before the price effect, and neo-Keynesians in charge of central bank monetary policy assume rising prices can be controlled subsequently by varying interest rates.
The Austrian school, which is banished from these proceedings, explains that inflation is of money and nothing else, and the effect on the general price level is determined by a combination of changes in the money quantity and of consumers’ relative preferences for holding money relative to goods.