Inflation Targeting: To Forecast or to Simulate?
Inflation targeting is a regime based to a great extent on communication and, more specifically, on using and communicating assessments of future inflation. The central banking literature, however, devotes surprisingly little attention to some important issues connected with such assessments. There are some non-trivial choices that need to be made regarding future inflation assessments on three distinct levels: construction, decision making and communication. One of the most important choices relates to the treatment of the central bank's behaviour within the assessment. We first differentiate between two basic ways of assessing future inflation: forecast and simulation. A forecast is the most likely picture of the future. In a forecast, all agents are assumed to behave in the most likely way. A simulation, on the other hand, is the most likely picture of the future if the behaviour of one agent follows a predetermined path or is generated using a selected reaction function. The path or reaction function ascribed to the agent does not have to be the most likely one. After differentiating between a forecast and a simulation, we discuss the pros and cons of using the two ways of assessing future inflation on the three abovementioned levels.
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