Currently the creation of new coins is fixed at a certain rate which halves every few years and will at some point in the future drop to zero. As I understand it, this is by consensus, i.e. all the nodes in the network agree on this protocol.
Suppose at some point in the future the Bitcoin community were to decide that the currency's deflationary bias wasn't such a good thing for the economy and that it would be better to start expanding the monetary base at a higher rate. What would it take for such a policy to take effect? Specifically, what percentage of the nodes in the network would have to vote in favor of the new expansionary policy?
And if indeed the network could vote itself into an expansionary policy, is it then also conceivable that it might vote itself into a hyperinflation, where the rate of expansion gets out of hand?
In short, what does it take to change the rate of expansion of the Bitcoin monetary base, and how easy or difficult is it to achieve as compared with the stroke of a central banker's pen?
PS: I can see a future where the top miners who own most of the computing power decide amongst themselves that they deserve more than their share of bitcoins after all and so they decide to institute the change, and I'm curious to know how the network would handle such an event.