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Incomplete markets and households’ exposure to interest rate and inflation risk: implications for the monetary policy maker


  • Andrea Pescatori


The present paper studies optimal monetary policy when the representative agent assumption is abandoned and financial wealth heterogeneity across households is introduced. Incomplete markets make households incapable of perfectly insuring against interest rate and inflation risk, creating a trade-off between price level and debt-servicing stabilization. We derive a welfare-based loss function for the policymaker, which includes an additional target related to the cross-sectional distribution of household debt. The extent of the deviation from price stability depends on the initial level of debt dispersion. Using U.S. microdata to calibrate the model, we find an optimal inflation volatility equal to almost 20 percent of the actual volatility of the last 15 years. Finally, the paper studies the design of optimal simple implementable rules. Superinertial rules, which imply a hump-shaped interest rate response to shocks, significantly outperform standard rules.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Pescatori, 2007. "Incomplete markets and households’ exposure to interest rate and inflation risk: implications for the monetary policy maker," Working Paper 0709, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:0709

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2005. "Inflation Stabilization And Welfare: The Case Of A Distorted Steady State," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(6), pages 1185-1236, December.
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    4. Aubhik Khan & Robert G. King & Alexander L. Wolman, 2003. "Optimal Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(4), pages 825-860.
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    6. Miao, Jianjun, 2006. "Competitive equilibria of economies with a continuum of consumers and aggregate shocks," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 128(1), pages 274-298, May.
    7. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: II. Applications," NBER Working Papers 9420, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Henry Kim & Jinill Kim & Robert Kollmann, 2005. "Applying Perturbation Methods to Incomplete Market Models with Exogenous Borrowing Constraints," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0504, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
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    11. Eric R Young, 2005. "Approximate Aggregation," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 141, Society for Computational Economics.
    12. Sbordone, Argia M., 2002. "Prices and unit labor costs: a new test of price stickiness," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 265-292, March.
    13. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
    14. Bennett T. McCallum, 2001. "Monetary policy analysis in models without money," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 145-164.
    15. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jae Won Lee, 2010. "Heterogeneous Households in a Sticky Price Model," Departmental Working Papers 201001, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
    2. Jae Won Lee, 2014. "Monetary Policy with Heterogeneous Households and Imperfect Risk-Sharing," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(3), pages 505-522, July.

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    Monetary policy ; Interest rates ; Inflation (Finance) ; Consumer credit;

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