Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Heeding Daedalus: Optimal inflation and the zero lower bound

Contents:

Author Info

  • John C. Williams

Abstract

This paper reexamines the implications of the zero lower bound on interest rates for monetary policy and the optimal choice of steady-state inflation in light of the experience of the recent global recession. There are two main findings. First, the zero lower bound did not materially contribute to the sharp declines in output in the United States and many other economies through the end of 2008, but it is a significant factor slowing recovery. Model simulations imply that an additional 4 percentage points of rate cuts would have kept the unemployment rate from rising as much as it has and would bring the unemployment and inflation rates more quickly to steady-state values, but the zero bound precludes these actions. This inability to lower interest rates comes at the cost of $1.7 trillion of foregone output over four years. Second, if recent events are a harbinger of a significantly more adverse macroeconomic climate than experienced over the preceding two decades, then a 2 percent steady-state inflation rate may provide an inadequate buffer to keep the zero bound from having noticeable deleterious effects on the macroeconomy assuming the central bank follows the standard Taylor Rule. In such an adverse environment, stronger systematic countercyclical fiscal policy and/or alternative monetary policy strategies can mitigate the harmful effects of the zero bound with a 2 percent inflation target. However, even with such policies, an inflation target of 1 percent or lower could entail significant costs in terms of macroeconomic volatility.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.frbsf.org/publications/economics/papers/2009/wp09-23bk.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Paper Series with number 2009-23.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2009-23

Contact details of provider:
Postal: P.O. Box 7702, San Francisco, CA 94120-7702
Phone: (415) 974-2000
Fax: (415) 974-3333
Email:
Web page: http://www.frbsf.org/
More information through EDIRC

Order Information:
Email:

Related research

Keywords: Monetary policy ; Fiscal policy ; Liquidity (Economics);

Other versions of this item:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Glenn D. Rudebusch & John C. Williams, 2006. "Revealing the Secrets of the Temple: The Value of Publishing Central Bank Interest Rate Projections," NBER Working Papers 12638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. McCallum, Bennett T, 2000. "Theoretical Analysis Regarding a Zero Lower Bound on Nominal Interest Rates," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(4), pages 870-904, November.
  3. Evans, George W. & Guse, Eran & Honkapohja, Seppo, 2008. "Liquidity traps, learning and stagnation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1438-1463, November.
  4. Andrew T. Levin & John C. Williams, 2003. "Robust monetary policy with competing reference models," Working Paper Series 2003-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  5. Orphanides, Athanasios & Williams, John C., 2007. "Robust monetary policy with imperfect knowledge," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(5), pages 1406-1435, July.
  6. Thomas Laubach, 2003. "New evidence on the interest rate effects of budget deficits and debt," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-12, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Ben S. Bernanke & Vincent R. Reinhart & Brian P. Sack, 2004. "Monetary policy alternatives at the zero bound: an empirical assessment," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-48, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Francesco Giavazzi, 2002. "International Seminar on Macroeconomics," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fran02-1, July.
  9. Athanasios Orphanides & Volker Wieland, 1999. "Efficient monetary policy design near price stability," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-67, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  11. John C. Williams, 2010. "Monetary policy in a low inflation economy with learning," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 1-12.
  12. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2002. "Robust Monetary Policy Rules with Unknown Natural Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 63-146.
  13. Orazio Attanasio & Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 1998. "The Demand for Money, Financial Innovation, and the Welfare Cost of Inflation: An Analysis with Households' Data," CSEF Working Papers 03, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  14. Rudebusch, Glenn D. & Williams, John C., 2009. "Forecasting Recessions: The Puzzle of the Enduring Power of the Yield Curve," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 27(4), pages 492-503.
  15. Thomas Laubach & John C. Williams, 2001. "Measuring the natural rate of interest," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-56, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  16. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2009. "What fiscal policy is effective at zero interest rates?," Staff Reports 402, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  17. George A. Akerlof & William R. Dickens & George L. Perry, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Low Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
  18. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2004. "Optimal monetary policy under commitment with a zero bound on nominal interest rates," CFS Working Paper Series 2004/13, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  19. David Reifschneider & John C. Williams, 2000. "Three lessons for monetary policy in a low-inflation era," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 936-978.
  20. John B. Taylor, 2007. "Housing and monetary policy," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 463-476.
  21. Roberto M. Billi & George A. Kahn, 2008. "What is the optimal inflation rate?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 5-28.
  22. Coenen, Günter & Orphanides, Athanasios & Wieland, Volker, 2003. "Price stability and monetary policy effectiveness when nominal interest rates are bounded at zero," CFS Working Paper Series 2003/13, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  23. John B. Carlson & Ben R. Craig & William R. Melick, 2005. "Recovering market expectations of FOMC rate changes with options on federal funds futures," Working Paper 0507, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  24. Reuven Glick & Kevin J. Lansing, 2009. "U.S. household deleveraging and future consumption growth," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue may15.
  25. Flint Brayton & Eileen Mauskopf & David Reifschneider & Peter Tinsley & John Williams, 1997. "The role of expectations in the FRB/US macroeconomic model," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Apr, pages 227-245.
  26. Justin Weidner & John C. Williams, 2009. "How big is the output gap?," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue jun12.
  27. Reifschneider, David L. & Roberts, John M., 2006. "Expectations formation and the effectiveness of strategies for limiting the consequences of the zero bound," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 314-337, September.
  28. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2009. "The Fed's monetary policy response to the current crisis," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue may22.
  29. Reifschneider, David & Willams, John C, 2000. "Three Lessons for Monetary Policy in a Low-Inflation Era," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(4), pages 936-66, November.
  30. Clouse James & Henderson Dale & Orphanides Athanasios & Small David H. & Tinsley P.A., 2003. "Monetary Policy When the Nominal Short-Term Interest Rate is Zero," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-65, September.
  31. Orphanides, Athanasios & Porter, Richard D. & Reifschneider, David & Tetlow, Robert & Finan, Frederico, 2000. "Errors in the measurement of the output gap and the design of monetary policy," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(1-2), pages 117-141.
  32. André Meier, 2009. "Panacea, Curse, or Nonevent? Unconventional Monetary Policy in the United Kingdom," IMF Working Papers 09/163, International Monetary Fund.
  33. Bodenstein, Martin & Erceg, Christopher & Guerrieri, Luca, 2010. "The Effects of Foreign Shocks When Interest Rates Are at Zero," CEPR Discussion Papers 8006, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  34. John C. Williams, 2009. "The risk of deflation," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue mar27.
  35. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Michael Woodford, 2003. "The Zero Bound on Interest Rates and Optimal Monetary Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 139-235.
  36. Ben S. Bernanke & Vincent R. Reinhart, 2004. "Conducting Monetary Policy at Very Low Short-Term Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 85-90, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Bennett T. McCallum, 2011. "Should Central Banks Raise their Inflation Targets? Some Relevant Issues," NBER Working Papers 17005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Günter Coenen & Anders Warne, 2014. "Risks to Price Stability, the Zero Lower Bound, and Forward Guidance: A Real-Time Assessment," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 10(2), pages 7-54, June.
  3. Michael Dooley & John C Williams, 2010. "Wrap-up Discussion," RBA Annual Conference Volume, in: Renée Fry & Callum Jones & Christopher Kent (ed.), Inflation in an Era of Relative Price Shocks Reserve Bank of Australia.
  4. Guido Ascari & Argia M. Sbordone, 2013. "The Macroeconomics of Trend Inflation," DEM Working Papers Series 053, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Management.
  5. Olmos, Lorena & Sanso Frago, Marcos, 2014. "Natural Rate of Interest with Endogenous Growth, Financial Frictions and Trend Inflation," MPRA Paper 57212, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Johannes F. Wieland, 2010. "The Optimal Inflation Rate in New Keynesian Models," NBER Working Papers 16093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jean Louis, Rosmy & Balli, Faruk, 2013. "Low-inflation-targeting monetary policy and differential unemployment rate: Is monetary policy to be blamed for the financial crisis? — Evidence from major OECD countries," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 546-564.
  8. Tambakis, Demosthenes N., 2014. "On the risk of long-run deflation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 176-181.
  9. Henning Weber, 2011. "Optimal inflation and firms' productivity dynamics," Kiel Working Papers 1685, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  10. Magill, Michael & Quinzii, Martine, 2014. "Anchoring expectations of inflation," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 86-105.
  11. R. Gerke & F. Hammermann & V. Lewis, 2011. "Robust Monetary Policy in a Model with Financial Distress," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 11/767, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  12. Axel A. Weber, 2011. "Challenges for monetary policy in the European Monetary Union," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue July, pages 235-242.
  13. Gerlach, Stefan & Lewis, John, 2011. "ECB Reaction Functions and the Crisis of 2008," CEPR Discussion Papers 8472, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Gerke, Rafael & Hammermann, Felix & Lewis, Vivien, 2012. "Robust monetary policy in a model with financial distress," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 318-325.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2009-23. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Diane Rosenberger).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.