IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/fip/fedaer/y1997iq2p4-25nv.82no.2.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

History and theory of the NAIRU: a critical review

Author

Listed:
  • Marco A. Espinosa-Vega
  • Steven Russell

Abstract

Economic commentators regularly urge the Fed to use the level of unemployment or the rate of change in wages as leading indicators of inflation and as guides to whether they should ease or tighten monetary policy. The logic behind this approach is based on modern (post-1970) Keynesian macroeconomics and, more specifically, on the Phillips curve and the nonaccelerating inflation rate of unemployment (NAIRU). This article attempts to provide some basic information about this NAIRU theory of the causes of inflation and the role of monetary policy. After describing the historical development of the NAIRU theory, the discussion raises some practical questions about the validity of the theory and its usefulness as the basis for policy advice. Perhaps the most important question involves the difficulty of distinguishing policy-induced changes in nominal wages that reflect future changes in the price level from changes in relative wages associated with real changes in the economy. The authors also describe recent developments in neoclassical theory that indicate that business cycle fluctuations in employment and output may be caused primarily by real forces-a situation that, if true, increases the danger that monetary policy based on the NAIRU may interfere with the proper functioning of the price system.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco A. Espinosa-Vega & Steven Russell, 1997. "History and theory of the NAIRU: a critical review," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 2, pages 4-25.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:1997:i:q2:p:4-25:n:v.82no.2
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.frbatlanta.org/frbatlanta/filelegacydocs/ACFC1.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Prescott, Edward C., 1986. "Theory ahead of business-cycle measurement," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 11-44, January.
    2. Hansen, Gary D., 1985. "Indivisible labor and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-327, November.
    3. Marcet, Albert & Sargent, Thomas J., 1989. "Convergence of least squares learning mechanisms in self-referential linear stochastic models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 337-368, August.
    4. Neil Wallace, 1984. "Some of the choices for monetary policy," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win.
    5. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-1370, November.
    6. James B. Bullard & Steven Russell, 2004. "How costly is sustained low inflation for the U.S. economy?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 35-68.
    7. Robert E. Lucas, Jr. & Thomas J. Sargent, 1979. "After Keynesian macroeconomics," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr.
    8. Leeper, Eric M. & Gordon, David B., 1992. "In search of the liquidity effect," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 341-369, June.
    9. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1997. "The NAIRU, Unemployment and Monetary Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 33-49, Winter.
    10. Roberto Chang, 1997. "Is low unemployment inflationary?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q I, pages 4-13.
    11. Mark A. Wynne, 1995. "Sticky prices: what is the evidence?," Economic and Financial Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Q I, pages 1-12.
    12. Sargent, Thomas J & Wallace, Neil, 1975. ""Rational" Expectations, the Optimal Monetary Instrument, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 241-254, April.
    13. Arifovic, Jasmina, 1995. "Genetic algorithms and inflationary economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 219-243, August.
    14. Zarnowitz, Victor, 1992. "Business Cycles," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226978901, May.
    15. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1995. "Relative-Price Changes as Aggregate Supply Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 161-193.
    16. Bruce D. Smith, 1984. "Money and inflation in colonial Massachusetts," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win.
    17. Bruce Smith & J. Bhattacharya & Mark Guzman, 1998. "Some Even More Unpleasant Monetarist Arithmetic," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(3), pages 596-623, August.
    18. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
    19. Franco Modigliani & Lucas Papademos, 1975. "Targets for Monetary Policy in the Coming Year," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 6(1), pages 141-166.
    20. James Tobin, 1980. "Stabilization Policy Ten Years After," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 11(1, Tenth ), pages 19-90.
    21. Nelson, Charles R. & Plosser, Charles I., 1982. "Trends and random walks in macroeconmic time series : Some evidence and implications," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 139-162.
    22. Marco Espinosa & Steven Russell, 1998. "Can a Policy of Higher Inflation Reduce Real Interests in the Long Run?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 92-103, February.
    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


    Cited by:

    1. Bozani, Vasiliki & Drydakis, Nick, 2011. "Studying the NAIRU and its Implications," IZA Discussion Papers 6079, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Gottschalk, Jan, 2002. "Keynesian and monetarist views on the German unemployment problem: theory and evidence," Kiel Working Papers 1096, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    3. Arturo Estrella & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1999. "Rethinking the Role of NAIRU in Monetary Policy: Implications of Model Formulation and Uncertainty," NBER Chapters,in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 405-436 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Victor Claar, 2006. "Is the NAIRU more useful in forecasting inflation than the natural rate of unemployment?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(18), pages 2179-2189.
    5. Lynn Elaine Browne, 1999. "U.S economic performance: good fortune, bubble, or new era?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue May, pages 3-20.
    6. Dionisio Ramirez & Gabriel Rodr¨ªguez, 2014. "Do Labor Reforms in Spain Have an Effect on the Equilibrium Unemployment Rate?," International Journal of Social Science Studies, Redfame publishing, vol. 2(1), pages 105-120, January.
    7. Sharon Kozicki, 2001. "Why do central banks monitor so many inflation indicators?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q III, pages 5-42.
    8. Debelle, Guy & Vickery, James, 1998. "Is the Phillips Curve a Curve? Some Evidence and Implications for Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 74(227), pages 384-398, December.
    9. Tao Zha, 1998. "A dynamic multivariate model for use in formulating policy," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 1, pages 16-29.
    10. Ieva Rubene & Paolo Guarda, 2004. "The new Keynesian Phillips curve: empirical results for Luxembourg," BCL working papers 11, Central Bank of Luxembourg.
    11. Mariam Camarero & Josep Lluis Carrion Silvestre & Cecilio Tamarit, 2005. "Unemployment dynamics and NAIRU estimates for CEECs : A univariate approach," Working Papers in Economics 131, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economics;

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:1997:i:q2:p:4-25:n:v.82no.2. 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: (Meredith Rector). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/frbatus.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.