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Thursday, June 19, 2003

The Liquidity Trap: A Sticky Problem

Brad has a number of posts this week on the liquidity trap problem (and here and here . Two points occur to me: firstly, is it more than a merely semantic point whether we are 'fast approaching' or "already caught in the orbit" of one; and secondly whether (as Joerg asks me) the name is not a misnomer, wouldn't 'viscosity trap' be a better description? Meantime, John Irons recent post is as good a start for the 'unintitiated' (we still await the 'guide for the perplexed') as any you will find:

The recent FOMC statement by the Federal Reserve (Fed) included the line that "... the probability of an unwelcome substantial fall in inflation, though minor, exceeds that of a pickup in inflation from its already low level" (emphasis added.) It occurred to me that this statement might be a little confusing - isn't inflation supposed to be bad? Why would a fall in inflation be "unwelcome"? The answer has to do with what economists call a "liquidity trap." (Note: the full analysis of a liquidity trap is considerably more complicated than below, but this should convey the basic idea.)

The basic argument is that the interest elasticity of money demand increases, and monetary policy becomes less effective, when the nominal interest rate approaches zero. Ok, here's the English version...........
Source: ArgMax
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