Inflation and the Making of Australian Macroeconomic Policy, by Michael Beggs

By Michael Beggs

Within the many years after international struggle II, inflation undermined the aspiration for complete employment in Australia. This publication tells the tale of ways the Australian kingdom used to be formed through the disagreement with financial instability: a pre-history of neoliberalism.

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Chapter 3 is based around the growing realisation of a contradiction between full employment and price stability. The idea that maintaining both simultaneously was about positioning the level of aggregate demand at a single point that would satisfy both goals was disappointed. I trace the disappointment as perceived theoretically and dealt with practically by policymakers, and show how these two lines of development interacted. Theory moved from the simple ‘inflation gap’ analysis in two directions.

It could mean simply that the order, the set of rules, imposes little formal restraint on the freedom of national governments and policymakers to act as they choose – a kind of negative liberty, to repurpose Berlin (2002). In this case, policymakers are still very much constrained by the fact that they are working within an international monetary system, which they do not control, but the constraints are not the direct result of formal rules: international institutions will not impose additional sanctions.

Goods and finance flows across borders, with implications for domestic demand. Domestic producers are in competition (and potential competition) with those abroad, so relative cost and price levels matter, and the terms of trade affect the effective ‘productivity’ of domestic production in terms of foreign goods. 34 Inflation and the Making of Australian Macroeconomic Policy It is helpful here to make a distinction, following Mundell, between international monetary orderr and system. The order is the set of ‘laws, conventions, regulations and mores that establish the setting of the system and the understanding of the environment by the participants in it’, and it is only a part of the broader system, that system being ‘an aggregation of diverse entities united by regular interaction according to some form of control ...

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