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The Optimal Rate of Inflation

In: Handbook of Monetary Economics

  • Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie
  • Uribe, Martín

Observed inflation targets around the industrial world are concentrated at two percent per year. This chapter investigates the extent to which the observed magnitudes of inflation targets are consistent with the optimal rate of inflation predicted by leading theories of monetary non-neutrality. We find that consistently those theories imply that the optimal rate of inflation ranges from minus the real rate of interest to numbers insignificantly above zero. Furthermore, we argue that the zero bound on nominal interest rates does not represent an impediment for setting inflation targets near or below zero. Finally, we find that central banks should adjust their inflation targets upward by the size of the quality bias in measured inflation only if hedonic prices are more sticky than nonquality-adjusted prices.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Benjamin M. Friedman & Michael Woodford (ed.), 2010. "Handbook of Monetary Economics," Handbook of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
  • This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of Monetary Economics with number 3-13.
    Handle: RePEc:eee:monchp:3-13
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookseriesdescription.cws_home/BS_HE/description

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

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    1. Peter J. Klenow & Oleksiy Kryvtsov, 2007. "State-Dependent or Time-Dependent Pricing: Does It Matter for Recent U.S. Inflation?," Discussion Papers 07-007, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    2. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé & Martín Uribe, 2009. "Foreign Demand for Domestic Currency and the Optimal Rate of Inflation," NBER Working Papers 15494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Michael Woodford & Pierpaolo Benigno, 2004. "Inflation Stabilization and Welfare: The Case of a Distorted Steady State," 2004 Meeting Papers 481, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Tack Yun, 2005. "Optimal Monetary Policy with Relative Price Distortions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 89-109, March.
    5. Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 2009. "On Quality Bias and Inflation Targets," CEPR Discussion Papers 7550, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Klaus Adam & Roberto M. Billi, 2005. "Optimal monetary policy under commitment with a zero bound on nominal interest rates," Research Working Paper RWP 05-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    7. Yun, Tack, 1996. "Nominal price rigidity, money supply endogeneity, and business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 345-370, April.
    8. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2008. "Five Facts about Prices: A Reevaluation of Menu Cost Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1415-1464, November.
    9. Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1998. "Tax evasion and the optimal inflation tax," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 215-232, February.
    10. Alan S. Blinder, 1999. "Central Banking in Theory and Practice," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522608, June.
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