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The Optimal Rate of Inflation with Trending Relative Prices

  • ALEXANDER L. WOLMAN

The relative prices of different categories of consumption goods have been trending over time. Assuming they are exogenous with respect to monetary policy, these trends imply that monetary policy cannot stabilize the prices of all consumption categories. If prices are sticky, monetary policy then must trade off relative price distortions within different categories of consumption. Optimally, more weight should be placed on stabilizing goods and services prices that are less flexible. Calibrating a simple sticky price model to U.S. data, we find that slight deflation is optimal, even absent transactions frictions leading to a demand for money. Optimality of deflation derives from the fact that relative prices have been trending up for services, whose nominal prices seem to be less flexible.

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Article provided by Blackwell Publishing in its journal Journal of Money, Credit and Banking.

Volume (Year): 43 (2011)
Issue (Month): (03)
Pages: 355-384

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Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:43:y:2011:i::p:355-384
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0022-2879

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  1. Erceg, Christopher & Levin, Andrew, 2006. "Optimal monetary policy with durable consumption goods," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1341-1359, October.
  2. Charles T. Carlstrom & Timothy S. Fuerst & Fabio Ghironi, 2002. "Does it matter (for equilibrium determinacy) what price index the central bank targets?," Working Paper 0202, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  3. Andrew Levin & Christopher J. Erceg & Dale W. Henderson, 1999. "Optimal Monetary Policy with Staggered Wage and Price Contracts," Computing in Economics and Finance 1999 1151, Society for Computational Economics.
  4. Benigno, Pierpaolo, 2004. "Optimal monetary policy in a currency area," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 293-320, July.
  5. Loyo, Eduardo, 2002. "Imaginary money against sticky relative prices," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 1073-1092, June.
  6. Jeremy Greenwood & Gokce Uysal, 2005. "New Goods and the Transition to a New Economy," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 99-134, 06.
  7. Kevin X. D. Huang & Zheng Liu, 2003. "Inflation Targeting: What Inflation Rate to Target?," Emory Economics 0318, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  8. Aoki, Kosuke, 2001. "Optimal monetary policy responses to relative-price changes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 55-80, August.
  9. Toyoichiro Shirota, 2007. "Optimal Trend Inflation and Monetary Policy under Trending Relative Prices," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 07-E-1, Bank of Japan.
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