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Did the Federal Reserve Break the Phillips Curve? Theory and Evidence of Anchoring Inflation Expectations

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  • Brent Bundick
  • Andrew Lee Smith

Abstract

In a macroeconomic model with drifting long-run inflation expectations, the anchoring of inflation expectations manifests in two testable predictions. First, expectations about inflation far in the future should no longer respond to news about current inflation. Second, better-anchored inflation expectations weaken the relationship between unemployment and inflation, flattening the reduced-form Phillips curve. We evaluate both predictions and find that communication of a numerical inflation objective better anchored inflation expectations in the United States but failed to anchor expectations in Japan. Moreover, the improved anchoring of U.S. inflation expectations can account for much of the observed flattening of the Phillips curve. Finally, we present evidence that initial Federal Reserve communication around its longer-run inflation objective may have led inflation expectations to anchor at a level below 2 percent.

Suggested Citation

  • Brent Bundick & Andrew Lee Smith, 2020. "Did the Federal Reserve Break the Phillips Curve? Theory and Evidence of Anchoring Inflation Expectations," Research Working Paper RWP 20-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedkrw:88701
    DOI: 10.18651/RWP2020-11
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Monetary policy; Inflation; Inflation targeting; Central bank communication; Structural breaks; Phillips Curve;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies

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