Working Papers

2015-05 | February 2015

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Domestic Bond Markets and Inflation

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Abstract This paper explores the relationship between inflation and the existence of a local, nominal, publicly-traded, long-maturity, domestic-currency bond market. Bond holders are exposed to capital losses through inflation and therefore represent a potential anti-inflationary force; we ask whether their influence is apparent both theoretically and empirically. We develop a simple theoretical model with heterogeneous agents where the issuance of such bonds leads to political pressure on the government to choose a lower inflation rate. We then check this prediction empirically using a panel of data, examining inflation before and after the introduction of a domestic bond market. Inflation-targeting countries with a bond market experience inflation approximately three to four percentage points lower than those without one. This effect is economically and statistically significant; it is also insensitive to a variety of estimation strategies, including using political and fiscal variables suggested by theory to account for the potential endogeneity of domestic bond issuance. Notably, we do not find a similar effect for short-term or foreign-currency bonds.

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