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The Inflation Bias Revisited: Theory and Some International Evidence

  • Cukierman, Alex
  • Gerlach, Stefan

The Kydland-Prescott, Barro-Gordon inflation bias result relies on the presumption that policymakers aim at achieving a level of employment above potential. Both academics and policymakers have recently questioned this presumption on the ground of realism. We show that even if policymakers are content with the normal level of employment there is an inflation bias if the central bank is uncertain about the future state of the economy, and is more sensitive to policy misses leading to employment below the normal level than to policy misses leading to employment above it. This new view of the inflation bias implies that there should be a positive association between average inflation and the variance of shocks to output. Cross sectional empirical evidence from 21 developed economies supports this implication. The Paper also discusses the consequences for the transparency of monetary policy and for central bank reform.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3761.

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Date of creation: Feb 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3761
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  1. Alex Cukierman & Anton Muscatelli, 2001. "Do Central Banks have Precautionary Demands for Expansions and for Price Stability?," Working Papers 2002_4, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow, revised Mar 2002.
  2. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  3. Guy Debelle & Stanley Fischer, 1994. "How independent should a central bank be?," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 94-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  4. Svensson, Lars E.O., 1997. "Inflation Forecast Targeting: Implementing and Monitoring Inflation Targets," Seminar Papers 615, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  5. repec:dgr:kubcen:199631 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Persson, T. & Tabellini, G., 1997. "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Papers 630, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  7. Ruge-Murcia, Francisco J., 2004. "The inflation bias when the central bank targets the natural rate of unemployment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 91-107, February.
  8. Richard Clarida & Mark Gertler, 1996. "How the Bundesbank Conducts Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 5581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Vickers, John, 1986. "Signalling in a Model of Monetary Policy with Incomplete Information," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 443-55, November.
  10. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1996. "How Precise are Estimates of the Natural Rate of Unemployment?," NBER Working Papers 5477, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Svensson, Lars E O, 1997. "Optimal Inflation Targets, "Conservative" Central Banks, and Linear Inflation Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 98-114, March.
  12. Clarida, R. & Gali, J. & Gertler, M., 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and some Theory," Working Papers 98-01, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  13. Barro, Robert J & Gordon, David B, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 589-610, August.
  14. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-89, November.
  15. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  16. Alex Cukierman & V. Anton Muscatelli, 2002. "Do Central Banks have Precautionary Demands for Expansions and for Price Stability? - Theory and Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 764, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. Alan S. Blinder, 1999. "Central Banking in Theory and Practice," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522608, June.
  18. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1997. "Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number rome97-1, October.
  19. Alex Cukierman, 2002. "Are contemporary central banks transparent about economic models and objectives and what difference does it make?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 15-36.
  20. Fischer, Stanley, 1977. "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 191-205, February.
  21. Lohmann, Susanne, 1992. "Optimal Commitment in Monetary Policy: Credibility versus Flexibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 273-86, March.
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