Incomes policy

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In economics, incomes policies are wage and price controls used to fight inflation. (The name arises because this involves control over incomes.) Many or most macroeconomists oppose the use of these controls because since controls interfere with the price mechanism, encouraging inefficiency: they lead to shortages and declines in the quality of goods on the market, while requiring large government bureaucracies for their enforcement. Others argue that they are less expensive (more efficient) than recessions as a way of fighting inflation, at least for mild inflation. (Few see them as helping with hyperinflation.) Yet others argue that controls and mild recessions can be complementary solutions for relatively mild inflation. They work best for those sectors of the economy dominated by monopolies or oligopolies with a significant sector of workers organized in labor unions.

Incomes polices vary from "voluntary" wage and price guidelines to mandatory controls to price/wage freezes. One variant is "tax-based incomes policies" (TIPs), where a government fee is imposed on those firms that raise prices and/or wages more than the controls allow. This is seen as internalizing the external cost of raising prices and/or wages, solving a market failure that encourages inflation.

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