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Inflation Stabilization and Welfare: The Case of a Distorted Steady State

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  • Pierpaolo Benigno
  • Michael Woodford

Abstract

This paper considers the appropriate stabilization objectives for monetary policy in a microfounded model with staggered price-setting. Rotemberg and Woodford (1997) and Woodford (2002) have shown that under certain conditions, a local approximation to the expected utility of the representative household in a model of this kind is related inversely to the expected discounted value of a conventional quadratic loss function, in which each period's loss is a weighted average of squared deviations of inflation and an output gap measure from their optimal values (zero). However, those derivations rely on an assumption of the existence of an output or employment subsidy that offsets the distortion due to the market power of monopolistically-competitive price-setters, so that the steady state under a zero-inflation policy involves an efficient level of output. Here we show how to dispense with this unappealing assumption, so that a valid linear-quadratic approximation to the optimal policy problem is possible even when the steady state is distorted to an arbitrary extent (allowing for tax distortions as well as market power), and when, as a consequence, it is necessary to take account of the effects of stabilization policy on the average level of output. We again obtain a welfare-theoretic loss function that involves both inflation and an appropriately defined output gap, though the degree of distortion of the steady state affects both the weights on the two stabilization objectives and the definition of the welfare-relevant output gap. In the light of these results, we reconsider the conditions under which complete price stability is optimal, and find that they are more restrictive in the case of a distorted steady state. We also consider the conditions under which pure randomization of monetary policy can be welfare-improving, and find that this is possible in the case of a sufficiently distorted steady state, though the parameter values required are probably not empirically realistic.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10838.

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Date of creation: Oct 2004
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Publication status: published as Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2005. "Inflation Stabilization And Welfare: The Case Of A Distorted Steady State," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(6), pages 1185-1236, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10838

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  1. Michael Woodford, 2001. "Fiscal Requirements for Price Stability," NBER Working Papers 8072, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2005. "Inflation Stabilization And Welfare: The Case Of A Distorted Steady State," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(6), pages 1185-1236, December.
  3. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: I. General Theory," Levine's Bibliography 506439000000000384, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Aubhik Khan & Robert G. King & Alexander L. Wolman, 2003. "Optimal Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(4), pages 825-860.
  5. Clarida, Richard & Galí, Jordi & Gertler, Mark, 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 2139, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Christopher A. Sims & Jinill Kim & Sunghyun Kim, 2004. "Calculating and Using Second Order Accurate Solution of Discrete Time Dynamic Equilibrium Models," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 411, Econometric Society.
  7. Marvin Goodfriend & Robert G. King, 1998. "The new neoclassical synthesis and the role of monetary policy," Working Paper 98-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  8. Jinill Kim & Sunghyun Kim & Ernst Schaumburg & Christopher A. Sims, 2003. "Calculating and Using Second Order Accurate Solutions of Discrete Time," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000284, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Benigno, Gianluca & Benigno, Pierpaolo, 2003. "Designing targeting rules for international monetary policy cooperation," Working Paper Series 0279, European Central Bank.
  10. Alan Sutherland, 2002. "A Simple Second-Order Solution Method for Dynamic General Equilibrium Models," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics 200211, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews.
  11. Gianluca Benigno & Pierpaolo Benigno, 2004. "Designing target rules for international monetary policy cooperation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3759, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  12. Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2005. "Optimal stabilization policy when wages and prices are sticky: the case of a distorted steady state," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), pages 127-180.
  13. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
  14. Julio Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1997. "An Optimization-Based Econometric Framework for the Evaluation of Monetary Policy," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 297-361 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 1998. "Sticky price models of the business cycle: can the contract multiplier solve the persistence problem?," Staff Report 217, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  16. Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2004. "Optimal monetary and fiscal policy: a linear-quadratic approach," International Finance Discussion Papers 806, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Erceg, Christopher J. & Henderson, Dale W. & Levin, Andrew T., 2000. "Optimal monetary policy with staggered wage and price contracts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 281-313, October.
  18. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Inflation Targeting Rules," NBER Working Papers 9939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Dupor, Bill, 2003. "Optimal random monetary policy with nominal rigidity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 66-78, September.
  20. Mark Gertler & Kenneth Rogoff, 2004. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gert04-1, October.
  21. Robert King & Alexander L. Wolman, 1999. "What Should the Monetary Authority Do When Prices Are Sticky?," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 349-404 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Michael Woodford, 1999. "Commentary : how should monetary policy be conducted in an era of price stability?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 277-316.
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