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Inflation Dynamics and the Great Recession

  • Laurence Ball
  • Sandeep Mazumder

This paper examines inflation dynamics in the United States since 1960, with a particular focus on the Great Recession. A puzzle emerges when Phillips curves estimated over 1960-2007 are used to predict inflation over 2008-2010: inflation should have fallen by more than it did. We resolve this puzzle with two modifications of the Phillips curve, both suggested by theories of costly price adjustment: we measure core inflation with the median CPI inflation rate, and we allow the slope of the Phillips curve to change with the level and variance of inflation. We then examine the hypothesis of anchored inflation expectations. We find that expectations have been fully "shock-anchored" since the 1980s, while "level anchoring" has been gradual and partial, but significant. It is not clear whether expectations are sufficiently anchored to prevent deflation over the next few years. Finally, we show that the Great Recession provides fresh evidence against the New Keynesian Phillips curve with rational expectations.

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Article provided by Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution in its journal Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.

Volume (Year): 42 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (Spring) ()
Pages: 337-405

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Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:42:y:2011:i:2011-01:p:337-405
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  2. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2007. "Erratum to "Why Has U.S. Inflation Become Harder to Forecast?"," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(7), pages 1849-1849, October.
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  11. Laurence Ball, 1993. "What determines the sacrifice ratio?," Working Papers 93-21, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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  13. Robert J. Gordon, 2011. "The History of the Phillips Curve: Consensus and Bifurcation," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 78(309), pages 10-50, January.
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  21. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer & Giovanni P. Olivei, 2010. "The role of expectations and output in the inflation process: an empirical assessment," Public Policy Brief, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
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  25. Barsky, Robert B., 1987. "The Fisher hypothesis and the forecastability and persistence of inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 3-24, January.
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  28. Fabio Canova, 2009. "Comment to "Weak instruments robust tests in GMM and the New Keynesian Phillips curve" by Frank Kleibergen and Sophocles Mavroeidis," Economics Working Papers 1159, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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