Another method attempted in the past have been wage and price controls ("incomes policies"). Wage and price controls have been successful in wartime environments in combination with rationing. However, their use in other contexts is far more mixed. Notable failures of their use include the 1972 imposition of wage and price controls by Richard Nixon. More successful examples include the Prices and Incomes Accord in Australia and the Wassenaar Agreement in the Netherlands.
In general, wage and price controls are regarded as a temporary and exceptional measure, only effective when coupled with policies designed to reduce the underlying causes of inflation during the wage and price control regime, for example, winning the war being fought. They often have perverse effects, due to the distorted signals they send to the market. Artificially low prices often cause rationing and shortages and discourage future investment, resulting in yet further shortages. The usual economic analysis is that any product or service that is under-priced is overconsumed. For example, if the official price of bread is too low, there will be too little bread at official prices, and too little investment in bread making by the market to satisfy future needs, thereby exacerbating the problem in the long term.
Temporary controls may complement a recession as a way to fight inflation: the controls make the recession more efficient as a way to fight inflation (reducing the need to increase unemployment), while the re
In the 21st century, most economists favor a low and steady rate of inflation. In most countries, central banks or other monetary authorities are tasked with keeping their interbank lending rates at low stable levels, and the target inflation rate of about 2% to 3%. Central banks target a low inflation rate because they believe that high inflation is economically costly because it would create uncertainty about differences in relative prices and about the inflation rate itself. A low positive inflation rate is targeted rather than a zero or negative one because the latter could cause or worsen recessions; low (as opposed to zero or negative) inflation reduces the severity of economic recessions by enabling the labor market to adjust more quickly in a downturn, and reduces the risk that a liquidity trap prevents monetary policy from stabilizing the economy.
Higher interest rates reduce the economy's money supply because fewer people seek loans. When banks make loans, the loan proceeds are generally deposited in bank accounts that are part of the money supply. Therefore, when a person pays back a loan and no other loans are made to replace it, the amount of bank deposits and hence the money supply decrease. For example, in the early 1980s, when the federal funds rate exceeded 15%, the quantity of Federal Reserve dollars fell 8.1%, from US$8.6 trillion down to $7.9 trillion.
In the latter part of the 20th century, there was a debate between Keynesians and monetarists about the appropriate instrument to use to control inflation. Monetarists emphasize a low and steady growth rate of the money supply, while the Keynesians emphasize reducing aggregate demand during economic expansions and increasing demand during recessions to keep inflation stable. Control of aggregate demand can be achieved using both monetary policy and fiscal policy (increased taxation or reduced government spending to reduce demand).
A variety of other methods and policies have been proposed and used to control inflation.
Under a fixed exchange rate currency regime, a country's currency is tied in value to another single currency or to a basket of other currencies (or sometimes to another measure of value, such as gold). A fixed exchange rate is usually used to stabilize the value of a currency, vis-a-vis the currency it is pegged to. It can also be used as a means to control inflation. However, as the value of the reference currency rises and falls, so does the currency pegged to it. This essentially means that the inflation rate in the fixed exchange rate country is determined by the inflation rate of the country the currency is pegged to. In addition, a fixed exchange rate prevents a government from using domestic monetary policy to achieve macroeconomic stability.
Under the Bretton Woods agreement, most countries around the world had currencies that were fixed to the U.S. dollar. This limited inflation in those countries, but also exposed them to the danger of speculative attacks. After the Bretton Woods agreement broke down in the early 1970s, countries gradually turned to Bretton Woods agreement, most countries around the world had currencies that were fixed to the U.S. dollar. This limited inflation in those countries, but also exposed them to the danger of speculative attacks. After the Bretton Woods agreement broke down in the early 1970s, countries gradually turned to floating exchange rates. However, in the later part of the 20th century, some countries reverted to a fixed exchange rate as part of an attempt to control inflation. This policy of using a fixed exchange rate to control inflation was used in many countries in South America in the later part of the 20th century (e.g. Argentina (1991–2002), Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile).
The gold standard is a monetary system in which a region's common medium of exchange is paper notes (or other monetary token) that are normally freely convertible into pre-set, fixed quantities of gold. The standard specifies how the gold backing would be implemented, including the amount of specie per currency unit. The currency itself has no innate value, but is accepted by traders because it can be redeemed for the equivalent specie. A U.S. silver certificate, for example, could be redeemed for an actual piece of silver.
The gold standard was partially abandoned via the international adoption of the Bretton Woods system. Under this system all other major currencies were tied at fixed rates to the US dollar, which itself was tied by the US government to gold at the rate of US$35 per ounce. The Bretton Woods system broke down in 1971, causing most countries to switch to fiat money – money backed only by the laws of the country.
Under a gold standard, the long term rate of inflation (or deflation) would be determined by the growth rate of the supply of gold relative to total output. Critics argue that this will cause arbitrary fluctuations in the inflation rate, and that monetary policy would essentially be determined by gold mining.