During the early 198Os, Israel's inflation rate rose to almost 500% per year - one of the highest inflation rates in the developed world. In 1985, the Israeli government implemented a program that immediately reduced inflation to 15%-20%, where it remained for the rest of the decade. How did the economy deal with these major changes so rapidly and successfully? In these eighteen articles, Leonardo Leiderman discusses why the Israeli plan worked and considers how other countries might benefit from similar policies. Even though standard economic models predict that output will drop and unemployment will rise during disinflation, Israel saw a boom in private consumption and large increases in real wages that lasted for about three years. To understand how the effects of Israeli disinflation policies defied typical expectations, Leiderman investigates how monetary and fiscal policy determined Israel's runaway inflation and how the country brought its economy abruptly under control. He finds that rates of inflation and consumption depend on the public's expectations about future fiscal adjustments and that foreign trade shocks do not inevitably lead to a long term rise in the inflation rate. Although Israel's case was unusual, it was not unique. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico also experienced increases in economic activity after implementing stabilization policies, and Leiderman suggests that Eastern European economies might follow a similar path. His illumination of international trade and domestic policies, past and present, will interest academic economists and policymakers alike.
Leonardo Leiderman is associate professor of economics at Tel-Aviv University. He is also a senior advisor for policy and research for the Bank of Israel and has served as a consultant to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
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