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Optimal Inflation and the Identification of the Phillips Curve

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  • Michael McLeay

    (Bank of England)

  • Silvana Tenreyro

    (Bank of England
    Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM)
    London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
    Centre for Economic Policy Research)

Abstract

This note explains why inflation follows a seemingly exogenous statistical process, unrelated to the output gap. In other words, it explains why it is difficult to empirically identify a Phillips curve. 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael McLeay & Silvana Tenreyro, 2018. "Optimal Inflation and the Identification of the Phillips Curve," Discussion Papers 1815, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM).
  • Handle: RePEc:cfm:wpaper:1815
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    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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