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Does the Labour Share of Income Drive Inflation?

  • Rudd, Jeremy

    (Federal Reserve Board)

  • Whelan, Karl

    (Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland)

Recent years have seen a proliferation in research aimed at assessing monetary policy rules using macroeconomic models built from explicit micro-foundations. In many versions of these models, pricing behaviour is described by a ``new-Keynesian Phillips curve,'' which relates inflation to expected future inflation and a driving variable related to production costs. Woodford (2001) has presented evidence that the new-Keynesian Phillips curve fits the empirical behaviour of U.S. inflation well when the labour income share is used as a driving variable, but fits poorly when deterministically detrended output is used. He concludes that the output gap---the deviation between actual and potential output---is better captured by the labour income share, in turn implying that central banks should raise interest rates in response to increases in the labour share. We show that the empirical evidence generally suggests that the labour share version of the new-Keynesian Phillips curve is a very poor model of U.S. price inflation. We conclude that there is little reason to view the labour income share as a good measure of the output gap, or as an appropriate variable for incorporation in a monetary policy rule.

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Paper provided by Central Bank of Ireland in its series Research Technical Papers with number 2/RT/02.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cbi:wpaper:2/rt/02
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  1. Jeff Fuhrer & George Moore, 1993. "Inflation persistence," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
  2. Argia M. Sbordone, 2001. "An Optimizing Model of U.S. Wage and Price Dynamics," Departmental Working Papers 200110, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  3. Marvin Goodfriend & Robert G. King, 2001. "The Case for Price Stability," NBER Working Papers 8423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rotemberg, Julio J. & Woodford, Michael, 1999. "The cyclical behavior of prices and costs," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 16, pages 1051-1135 Elsevier.
  5. Sbordone, A.M., 1998. "Prices and Unit Labor Costs: a New Test of Price Stickiness," Papers 653, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  6. Gali, Jordi & Gertler, Mark, 1999. "Inflation dynamics: A structural econometric analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 195-222, October.
  7. Jeremy Rudd & Karl Whelan, 2001. "New tests of the New-Keynesian Phillips curve," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-30, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Michael Woodford, 2001. "The Taylor Rule and Optimal Monetary Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 232-237, May.
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