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The Optimal Rate of Inflation

  • Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie
  • Uribe, Martín

Observed inflation targets around the industrial world are concentrated at two percent per year. This paper investigates the extent to which the observed magnitudes of inflation targets are consistent with the optimal rate of inflation predicted by leading theories of monetary non-neutrality. We find that consistently those theories imply that the optimal rate of inflation ranges from minus the real rate of interest to numbers insignificantly above zero. Furthermore, we argue that the zero bound on nominal interest rates does not represent an impediment for setting inflation targets near or below zero. Finally, we find that central banks should adjust their inflation targets upward by the size of the quality bias in measured inflation only if hedonic prices are more sticky than are non-quality-adjusted prices.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7864.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7864
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  1. Andrew T. Levin & Alexei Onatski & John C. Williams & Noah Williams, 2005. "Monetary policy under uncertainty in micro-founded macroeconometric models," Working Paper Series 2005-15, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2009. "On Quality Bias and Inflation Targets," NBER Working Papers 15505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David Reifschneider & John C. Williams, 2000. "Three lessons for monetary policy in a low-inflation era," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 936-978.
  4. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2006. "Optimal Monetary Policy under Commitment with a Zero Bound on Nominal Interest Rates," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(7), pages 1877-1905, October.
  5. Peter J. Klenow & Oleksiy Kryvtsov, 2005. "State-Dependent or Time-Dependent Pricing: Does it Matter for Recent U.S. Inflation?," NBER Working Papers 11043, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2004. "Inflation Stabilization and Welfare: The Case of a Distorted Steady State," NBER Working Papers 10838, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1998. "Tax evasion and the optimal inflation tax," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 215-232, February.
  8. Tack Yun, 2005. "Optimal Monetary Policy with Relative Price Distortions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 89-109, March.
  9. Alan S. Blinder, 1999. "Central Banking in Theory and Practice," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522608, June.
  10. Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 2009. "Foreign Demand for Domestic Currency and the Optimal Rate of Inflation," CEPR Discussion Papers 7549, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Yun, Tack, 1996. "Nominal price rigidity, money supply endogeneity, and business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 345-370, April.
  12. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2008. "Five Facts about Prices: A Reevaluation of Menu Cost Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1415-1464, November.
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