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What is the optimal inflation rate?

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  • Roberto M. Billi
  • George A. Kahn

Abstract

With inflation in the United States and elsewhere low by historical standards, the question of what inflation rate policymakers should aim for has moved front and center. Knowing what inflation rate to aim for is critically important for maximizing the economic well-being of the public. ; Most policymakers agree they should not allow inflation to fall below zero because the costs of deflation are thought to be high. They disagree, however, about how much above zero, if any, central banks should aim to keep inflation. Unfortunately, rigorous estimates of an "optimal inflation rate" have not been available in the economics literature. ; Billi and Kahn provide estimates of the optimal inflation rate. Based on a standard, modern macroeconomic model calibrated to U.S. data, they estimate the optimal inflation rate to be 0.7 to 1.4 percent per year as measured by the PCE price index. This estimate is the first to be based on an economic model in which policymakers are assumed explicitly to maximize the economic well-being of the public. Further research is required to confirm or refine these results using models that incorporate a richer array of possible interactions between the long-run inflation objective and economic stability.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2008:i:qii:p:5-28:n:v.93no.2
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    Cited by:

    1. Hess Chung & Jean‐Philippe Laforte & David Reifschneider & John C. Williams, 2012. "Have We Underestimated the Likelihood and Severity of Zero Lower Bound Events?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44, pages 47-82, February.
    2. Graham, Liam & Snower, Dennis J., 2013. "Hyperbolic Discounting And Positive Optimal Inflation," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(03), pages 591-620, April.
    3. Raphael Espinoza & Hyginus Leon & Ananthakrishnan Prasad, 2012. "When Should We Worry about Inflation?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 26(1), pages 100-127.
    4. Alan Blinder & Michael Ehrmann & Jakob de Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2017. "Necessity as the mother of invention: monetary policy after the crisis," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 32(92), pages 707-755.
    5. Hogan, Thomas L., 2015. "Has the Fed improved U.S. economic performance?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 257-266.
    6. Christophe Blot & Jérôme Creel & Paul Hubert & Fabien Labondance, 2014. "Les enjeux du triple mandat de la BCE," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(3), pages 175-186.
    7. Christophe Blot & Jérôme Creel & Paul Hubert & Fabien Labondance, 2014. "Dealing with the ECB's triple mandate?," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/53ccj34tat8, Sciences Po.
    8. Roman Horváth & Jakub Matějů, 2011. "How Are Inflation Targets Set?," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(2), pages 265-300, June.
    9. John C. Williams, 2009. "Heeding Daedalus: Optimal Inflation and the Zero Lower Bound," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(2 (Fall)), pages 1-49.
    10. Nepal Rastra Bank Research Department NRB, 2017. "Optimal Inflation Rate for Nepal," Working Papers id:12120, eSocialSciences.
    11. Etienne B Yehoue, 2012. "On Price Stability and Welfare," IMF Working Papers 12/189, International Monetary Fund.
    12. S. Boragan Aruoba & Frank Schorfheide, 2011. "Sticky Prices versus Monetary Frictions: An Estimation of Policy Trade-Offs," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 60-90, January.
    13. Pavel Kapinos, 2011. "Liquidity Trap in an Inflation-Targeting Framework: A Graphical Analysis," International Review of Economic Education, Economics Network, University of Bristol, vol. 10(2), pages 91-105.
    14. Roberto M. Billi, 2011. "Optimal Inflation for the US Economy," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 29-52, July.
    15. George A. Kahn, 2012. "Estimated rules for monetary policy," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q IV.
    16. Stefano Eusepi & Bart Hobijn & Andrea Tambalotti, 2011. "CONDI: A Cost-of-Nominal-Distortions Index," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 53-91, July.
    17. Peter Tulip, 2014. "Fiscal Policy and the Inflation Target," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 10(2), pages 63-96, June.
    18. Fuchi, Hitoshi & Oda, Nobuyuki & Ugai, Hiroshi, 2008. "Optimal inflation for Japan's economy," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 439-475, December.
    19. Pierre Fortin, 2013. "The Macroeconomics of Downward Nominal Wage Rigidity : a Review of the Issues and New Evidence for Canada," Cahiers de recherche 1309, CIRPEE.

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    Keywords

    Inflation (Finance);

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