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Jel Classification:E31 

Working Paper
Inflation expectations and nonlinearities in the Phillips curve
This paper shows that a simple form of nonlinearity in the Phillips curve can explain why, following the Great Recession, inflation did not decrease as much as predicted by linear Phillips curves, a phenomenon known as the missing disinflation. We estimate a piecewise-linear specification and document that the data favor a model with two regions, with the response of inflation to an increase in unemployment slower in the region where unemployment is already high. Nonlinearities remain important, even when we account for other factors proposed in the literature, such as consumer expectations of inflation or financial frictions. However, studying a range of specifications with different measures of inflation and economic activity, we conclude that, in most cases, consumer expectations are more robust than nonlinearities. We find that the role of consumer expectations was especially important in the 1970s and ?80s, during a turbulent rise in inflation followed by the Volcker disinflation; the nonlinearities make disinflation more problematic and require the inflation expectations process to be more forward-looking during this period, thereby putting a larger weight on survey expectations. We conclude that a nonlinear Phillips curve with forward-looking survey expectations can be a useful tool to understand inflation dynamics during episodes of rapid disinflation and persistent inflation.
AUTHORS: Doser, Alexander; Nunes, Ricardo; Rao, Nikhil; Sheremirov, Viacheslav
DATE: 2017-10-01

Working Paper
Price dispersion and inflation: new facts and theoretical implications
From a macroeconomic perspective, price rigidity is often perceived to be an important source of price dispersion, with significant implications for the dynamic properties of aggregate variables, welfare calculations, and the design of optimal policy. For instance, in standard New Keynesian models, the key cost of business cycles stems from the price dispersion resulting from firms' inability to adjust prices instantaneously. However, different macroeconomic models make conflicting predictions about the level of price dispersion, as well as about its dynamic properties and sensitivity to inflation. These contrasting predictions can help us to discriminate across alternative models. This paper examines the link between price dispersion and inflation, and the role of sales in this relationship.
AUTHORS: Sheremirov, Viacheslav
DATE: 2015-07-01

Working Paper
Monetary policy through production networks: evidence from the stock market
Monetary policy shocks have a large impact on stock prices during narrow time windows centered around press releases by the FOMC. We use spatial autoregressions to decompose the overall effect of monetary policy shocks into a direct effect and a network effect. We attribute 50 to 85 percent of the overall impact to network effects. The decomposition is a robust feature of the data, and we confirm large network effects in realized cash-flow fundamentals. A simple model with intermediate inputs allows a structural interpretation of our empirical strategy. Our findings indicate that production networks might be an important mechanism for transmitting monetary policy to the real economy.
AUTHORS: Weber, Michael; Ozdagli, Ali K.
DATE: 2017-10-01

Working Paper
The local aggregate effects of minimum wage increases
This paper examines the effect of minimum wage changes on local aggregate inflation and consumption growth. The paper utilizes variation in state-level minimum wages across locations and finds that minimum wage increases have a relatively modest effect on both city-level inflation and spending growth over the years following the change. The most noticeable effects are for food consumed at home and away from home?industries that typically employ a large share of low-wage and minimum-wage workers. Interestingly, consumers adjust their real food consumption when minimum wages rise, suggesting that some workers benefit from minimum wage changes.
AUTHORS: Parker, Jonathan A.; Cooper, Daniel H.; Luengo-Prado, Maria Jose
DATE: 2017-08-01

Working Paper
Show me the money: the monetary policy risk premium
We study how monetary policy affects the cross-section of expected stock returns. For this purpose, we create a parsimonious monetary policy exposure (MPE) index based on observable firm characteristics that are theoretically linked to how firms react to monetary policy. We find that stocks whose prices react more positively to expansionary monetary policy surprises earn lower average returns. This finding is consistent with the intuition that monetary policy is expansionary in bad economic times when the marginal value of wealth is high, and thus high MPE stocks serve as a hedge against bad times. A long-short trading strategy designed to exploit this effect achieves an annualized value-weighted return of 9.96 percent with an associated Sharpe Ratio of 0.93 between 1975 and 2015. This return premium cannot be explained by standard factor models and survives a battery of robustness tests.
AUTHORS: Ozdagli, Ali K.; Velikov, Mihail
DATE: 2016-12-01

Working Paper
Inflation Thresholds and Inattention
Inflation expectations are key to economic activity, and in the current economic climate of a heated labor market, they are central to the policy debate. At the same time, a growing literature on inattention suggests that individuals, and therefore individual behavior, may not be sensitive to changes in inflation when it is low. This paper explores evidence of such inattention by constructing three different measures based on the University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumers 1-year ahead inflation expectations. Exploring inflation thresholds of 2, 3, and 4 percent, our findings are consistent with the inattention hypothesis.
AUTHORS: Bracha, Anat; Tang, Jenny
DATE: 2019-09-01

Working Paper
The Optimal Inflation Target and the Natural Rate of Interest
We study how changes in the steady-state real interest rate affect the optimal inflation target in a New Keynesian DSGE model with trend inflation and a lower bound on the nominal interest rate. In this setup, a lower steady-state real interest rate increases the probability of hitting the lower bound. That effect can be counteracted by an increase in the inflation target, but the resulting higher steady-state inflation has a welfare cost in and of itself. We use an estimated DSGE model to quantify that tradeoff and determine the implied optimal inflation target, conditional on the monetary policy rule in place before the financial crisis. The relation between the steady-state real interest rate and the optimal inflation target is downward sloping. While the increase in the optimal inflation rate is in general smaller than the decline in the steady-state real interest rate, in the currently empirically relevant region the slope of the relation is found to be close to –1. That slope is robust to allowing for parameter uncertainty. Under “make-up” strategies such as price level targeting, the requiredincrease in the optimal inflation target under a lower steady-state real interest rate is, however, much smaller.
AUTHORS: Andrade, Philippe; Le Bihan, Hervé; Matheron, Julien; Gali, Jordi
DATE: 2019-10-01

Working Paper
Escaping the Great Recession
While high uncertainty is an inherent implication of the economy entering the zero lower bound, deflation is not, because agents are likely to be uncertain about the way policymakers will deal with the large stock of debt arising from a severe recession. We draw this conclusion based on a new-Keynesian model in which the monetary/fiscal policy mix can change over time and zero-lower-bound episodes are recurrent. Given that policymakers? behavior is constrained at the zero lower bound, beliefs about the exit strategy play a key role. Announcing a period of austerity is detrimental in the short run, but it preserves macroeconomic stability in the long run. A large recession can be avoided by abandoning fiscal discipline, but this results in a sharp increase in macroeconomic instability once the economy is out of the recession. Contradictory announcements by the fiscal and monetary authorities can lead to high inflation and large output losses. The policy trade-off can be resolved by committing to inflate away only the portion of debt resulting from an unusually large recession.
AUTHORS: Melosi, Leonardo; Bianchi, Francesco
DATE: 2014-08-01

Working Paper
Monetary Policy and Durable Goods
We analyze monetary policy in a New Keynesian model with durable and nondurable goods each with a separate degree of price rigidity. The model behavior is governed by two New Keynesian Phillips Curves. If durable goods are sufficiently long-lived we obtain an intriguing variant of the well-known ?divine coincidence.? In our model, the output gap depends only on inflation in the durable goods sector. We then analyze the optimal Taylor rule for this economy. If the monetary authority wants to stabilize the aggregate output gap, it places much more emphasis on stabilizing durable goods inflation (relative to its share of value-added in the economy). In contrast, if the monetary authority values stabilizing aggregate inflation, then it is optimal to respond to sectoral inflation in direct proportion to their shares of economic activity. Our results flow from the inherently high interest elasticity of demand for durable goods. We use numerical methods to verify the robustness of our analytical results for a broader class of model parameterizations.
AUTHORS: House, Christopher L.; Barsky, Robert; Kimball, Miles; Boehm, Christoph E.
DATE: 2016-11-06

Working Paper
Hitting the Elusive Inflation Target
Since the 2001 recession, average core inflation has been below the Federal Reserve?s 2% target. This deflationary bias is a predictable consequence of a low nominal interest rates environment in which the central bank follows a symmetric strategy to stabilize inflation. The deflationary bias increases if macroeconomic uncertainty rises or the natural real interest rate falls. An asymmetric rule according to which the central bank responds less aggressively to above-target inflation corrects the bias and allows inflation to converge to the central bank?s target. We show that adopting this asymmetric rule improves welfare and reduces the risk of self-fulfilling deflationary spirals. This approach does not entail any history dependence in setting the policy rate or any commitment to overshoot inflation after periods in which the lower bound constraint was binding.
AUTHORS: Bianchi, Francesco; Melosi, Leonardo; Rottner, Matthias
DATE: 2019-08-30

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