The 1975–78 Anti-Inflation Program in Retrospect

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The author provides an overview of the 1975–78 Anti-Inflation Program (AIP), in a background document prepared for a seminar organized by the Bank of Canada to mark the AIP's 30th anniversary. After reviewing Canada's experience with, and policy response to, inflation in the decade preceding the introduction of the AIP, the author sets out the elements of the AIP's monetary and fiscal policy, and prices and incomes controls. He then compares the program's inflation objectives with the actual course of inflation and aggregate demand during, and immediately after, the AIP. Drawing on existing analyses of the program's monetary and fiscal policy and controls elements, the author discusses why the program's specific targets and general objectives were not met. He concludes, with the benefit of hindsight, that—while external factors contributed to the failure to meet objectives—monetary and fiscal policy were not suc h as to give the AIP a strong chance of fully succeeding. The program's controls element has generally been assessed more favourably, although certain specifics of the controls design can be questioned. The author briefly considers parallels with recent retrospective considerations of monetary and fiscal policy over the same period in the United States. He also attempts to draw some general lessons from the AIP experience and, more generally, from the 1970s experience. Given that the AIP was an early attempt at a form of inflation targeting, these include lessons that may be relevant to current policy with respect to inflation.