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Designing Indexed Units of Account

An indexed unit of account is a unit of measurement defined using an index such as a consumer price index so that prices, wages or deferred payments defined in terms of these units will automatically adjust to changing economic conditions. Evidence on money illusion and sticky prices, and evidence from countries (notably Chile) that have created indexed units of account, suggests that creating such indexed units is an important policy option for governments in countries with unstable prices or incomes. Choices for governments designing indexed units of account are discussed. Governments may choose to encourage the use of the units only for large long-deferred non-wage payments, or they may choose to go to the opposite extreme of encouraging the use of the units for defining all prices, wages and payments. A general equilibrium model is given that shows the dynamics of prices when all prices are expressed in the units. Governments may choose to link units to a consumer price index or to a per capita income index, and there may be advantages to creating both kinds of units simultaneously. Downward rigidity of real wages might be reduced if wages are denominated in base-income-indexed units of account, where base income is defined so that the growth rate in money value of the unit is biased down relative to actual per capita income growth. Examples of the units for United States are displayed and discussed. Could add description of simulation, if that is added.

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File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d11b/d1179.pdf
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Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1179.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: May 1998
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Lawrence R. Klein, ed., Long-run Growth and Short-run Stabilization: Essays in Memory of Albert Ando, Elgar, 2006, pp. 288-302
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1179
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  1. Shiller, R.J. & Schneider, R., 1995. "Labor Income Indices Designed for Use in Contracts Promoting Income Risk Management," Papers 730, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  2. Ball, L. & Mankiw, G.H., 1992. "Relative-Price Change as Aggregate Supply Shocks," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1609, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro, 1987. "Monopolistic Competition and the Effects of Aggregate Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 647-66, September.
  4. Robert J. Shiller, 1998. "Indexed Units of Account: Theory and Assessment of Historical Experience," NBER Working Papers 6356, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert E. Hall, 1982. "Explorations in the Gold Standard and Related Policies for Stabilizing the Dollar," NBER Chapters, in: Inflation: Causes and Effects, pages 111-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bewley, Truman F, 1995. "A Depressed Labor Market as Explained by Participants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 250-54, May.
  7. Shafir, Eldar & Diamond, Peter & Tversky, Amos, 1997. "Money Illusion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 341-74, May.
  8. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  9. George A. Akerlof & William R. Dickens & George L. Perry, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Low Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
  10. Stanley Fischer & Franco Modigliani, 1978. "Towards an understanding of the real effects and costs of inflation," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 114(4), pages 810-833, December.
  11. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  12. Robert J. Shiller, 1997. "Public Resistance to Indexation: A Puzzle," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 159-228.
  13. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Stanley Fischer, 1989. "Lectures on Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262022834, June.
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