Inflation and output in New Keynesian models with a transient interest rate peg
Recent monetary policy experience suggests a simple diagnostic for models of monetary non-neutrality. Suppose the central bank pegs the nominal interest rate below steady state for a reasonably short period of time. Familiar intuition suggests that this should be modestly inflationary, and a reasonable model should deliver such a prediction. We pursue this simple diagnostic in several variants of the familiar Dynamic New Keynesian (DNK) model. Some variants of the model produce counterintuitive inflation reversals where the effect of the interest rate peg can switch from highly inflationary ...
Monetary policy and self-fulfilling expectations: the danger of forecasts
What rule should a central bank interested in inflation stability follow? Because monetary policy tends to work with lags, it is tempting to use inflation forecasts to generate policy advice. This article, however, suggests that the use of forecasts to drive policy is potentially destabilizing. The problem with forecast-based policy is that the economy becomes vulnerable to what economists term ?sunspot? fluctuations. These welfare-reducing fluctuations can be avoided by using a policy that puts greater weight on past, realized inflation rates rather than forecasted, future rates.
Gaps versus growth rates in the Taylor Rule
There are many possible formulations of the Taylor rule. We consider two that use different measures of economic activity to which the Fed could react, the output gap and the growth rate of GDP, and investigate which captures past movements of the fed funds rate more closely. Looking at these rules through the lens of a partial-adjustment Taylor rule, we conclude that the gap rule does a better job of explaining the actual funds rate data, and provides a better rule-of-thumb for understanding historical monetary policy.
Privately optimal contracts and suboptimal outcomes in a model of agency costs
This paper derives the privately optimal lending contract in the celebrated financial accelerator model of Bernanke, Gertler and Gilchrist (1999). The privately optimal contract includes indexation to the aggregate return on capital, household consumption, and the return to internal funds. Although privately optimal, this contract is not welfare maximizing as it leads to a sub-optimally high price of capital. The welfare cost of the privately optimal contract (when compared to the planner outcome) is significant. A menu of time-varying taxes and subsidies can decentralize the planner?s ...
The fiscal theory of the price level
A traditional function of the central bank is to control the price level. The fiscal theory of the price level challenges this assumption, arguing instead that the fiscal authority's budgetary policy is the primary determinant of the price level. The authors provide a critical review of the fiscal theory and its implications for monetary policy.
Price-level and interest-rate targeting in a model with sticky prices
An examination of a standard sticky-price monetary model whose conditions are perturbed relative to the canonical real-business-cycle model by two varying distortions: marginal cost and the nominal rate of interest. The paper explores the implications of two monetary policies that are frequently advocated: (1) an inflation target and (2) an interest rate target.
Perils of price deflations: an analysis of the Great Depression
If a central bank adopted a zero inflation target, it would, in practice, occasionally deviate up and down from that rate, and the economy would experience episodes of mild inflation and deflation. Is deflation-a decrease in the level of prices-a cause for concern? Deflation can cause output to decline, but to what extent? This Economic Commentary explores how much of a problem deflation might be for modern economies by estimating the effect of massive price declines on output during the Great Depression. The authors find that while deflation can cause output to decline, mild episodes of ...
Inertial Taylor rules: the benefit of signaling future policy
This article traces the consequences of an energy shock on the economy under two different monetary policy rules: (i) a standard Taylor rule, where the Fed responds to inflation and the output gap, and (ii) a Taylor rule with inertia, where the Fed moves slowly to the rate predicted by the standard rule. The authors show that, with both sticky wages and sticky prices, the outcome of an inertial Taylor rule is superior to that of the standard rule, in the sense that inflation is lower and output is higher following an adverse energy shock. However, if prices alone are sticky, the results are ...
Milton Friedman, teacher, 1912-2006
Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, who died on November 16, 2006, made monumental contributions to economics and changed the course of modern central banking. Many of his proposals for the conduct of monetary policy were controversial at the time he made them but are now widely accepted. This Commentary reviews some of them.
Monetary and financial interaction in the business cycle