November 14, 1998 The federal government and the Bank of Canada have been committed for some time to achieving and maintaining price stability as a way to foster a rising standard of living for all Canadians. To support this objective, the inflation-control target range of 1 to 3 per cent was recently extended through to the end of 2001. By then, the government and the Bank plan to announce a long-run target for monetary policy. In this article, the authors provide an overview of the most recent empirical evidence on the benefits of lower inflation. They draw on an extensive earlier survey and on work presented at two recent conferences on price stability hosted by the Bank of Canada. They find that, when inflation and tax interactions are taken into account, there are large benefits to lowering inflation. When these benefits are compared with the transitional costs associated with lowering inflation, significant positive benefits remain. However, the authors note that the extension of the inflation-control targets to the end of 2001 allows further research to ensure an operational definition of price stability that will help Canadians achieve a high standard of living.
This paper surveys the empirical literature on the benefits of low inflation, emphasizing contributions since 1990. It follows the framework of a section in the Bank's 1990 Annual Report, "The benefits of price stability."