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Credit Markets and the Welfare Costs of Inflation



We construct a simple model in which high inflation imposes welfare costs because it affects the ability of the financial sector to screen between high and low cost producers. Consumers search for a low price and inflation reduces the incentives to search, resulting in an increase in the demand of high cost producers. We show that beyond a certain level of inflation there is a switch from a separating equilibrium to a pooling equilibrium, where financial institutions become unable to distinguish among clients. In this pooling equilibrium a larger share of credit is allocated to less efficient firms.

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