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Optimal Inflation and the Identification of the Phillips Curve

In: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2019, volume 34

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  • Michael McLeay
  • Silvana Tenreyro

Abstract

Several academics and practitioners have pointed out that inflation follows a seemingly exogenous statistical process, unrelated to the output gap, leading some to argue that the Phillips curve has weakened or disappeared. In this paper we explain why this seemingly exogenous process arises, or, in other words, why it is difficult to empirically identify a Phillips curve, a key building block of the policy framework used by central banks. We show why this result need not imply that the Phillips curve does not hold – on the contrary, our conceptual framework is built under the assumption that the Phillips curve always holds. The reason is simple: if monetary policy is set with the goal of minimising welfare losses (measured as the sum of deviations of inflation from its target and output from its potential), subject to a Phillips curve, a central bank will seek to increase inflation when output is below potential. This targeting rule will impart a negative correlation between inflation and the output gap, blurring the identification of the (positively sloped) Phillips curve. We discuss different strategies to circumvent the identification problem and present evidence of a robust Phillips curve in US data.
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  • Michael McLeay & Silvana Tenreyro, 2019. "Optimal Inflation and the Identification of the Phillips Curve," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2019, volume 34, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:14245
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    Cited by:

    1. Janice C. Eberly & James H. Stock & Jonathan H. Wright, 2019. "The Federal Reserve’s Current Framework for Monetary Policy: A Review and Assessment," NBER Working Papers 26002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Sebastião Abreu, Daniel & Silva Lopes, Artur, 2019. "How to disappear completely: non-linearity and endogeneity in the new keynesian wage Phillips curve," MPRA Paper 94591, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Òscar Jordà & Fernanda Nechio, 2018. "Inflation Globally," Working Paper Series 2018-15, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, revised 07 Dec 2018.
    4. Nickel, Christiane & Bobeica, Elena & Koester, Gerrit & Lis, Eliza & Porqueddu, Mario, 2019. "Understanding low wage growth in the euro area and European countries," Occasional Paper Series 232, European Central Bank.
    5. Chiara Fratto & Harald Uhlig, . "Accounting for Post-Crisis Inflation: A Retro Analysis," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. John Komlos, 2019. "The Real U.S. Unemployment Rate Is Twice the Official Rate, and the Phillips Curve," CESifo Working Paper Series 7859, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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