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Rethinking the role of NAIRU in monetary policy: implications of model formulation and uncertainty

  • Arturo Estrella
  • Frederic Mishkin

In this paper we rethink the NAIRU concept and examine whether it might have a useful role in monetary policy. We argue that it can, but success depends critically on defining NAIRU as a short-run concept and distinguishing it from a long-run concept like the natural rate of unemployment. We examine what effect uncertainty has on the use of NAIRU in policy. Uncertainty about the level of NAIRU does not imply that monetary policy should react less to the NAIRU gap. However, uncertainty about the effect of the NAIRU gap on inflation does require adjustments to the policy reaction function. Also, as in Brainard (1967), uncertainty about the effect of the monetary policy instrument on the NAIRU gap reduces the magnitude of the policy response. We estimate a simple NAIRU gap model for the United States to obtain quantitative measures of uncertainty and to assess how these measures affect our view of the policy reaction function.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Research Paper with number 9806.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednrp:9806
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  1. Arturo Estrella, 1997. "Aggregate supply and demand shocks: a natural rate approach," Research Paper 9739, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Fuhrer, Jeffrey C & Moore, George R, 1995. "Monetary Policy Trade-offs and the Correlation between Nominal Interest Rates and Real Output," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 219-39, March.
  3. Joseph Stiglitz, 1997. "Reflections on the Natural Rate Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 3-10, Winter.
  4. Lars E O Svensson, 1996. "Inflation Forecast Targeting: Implementing and Monitoring Inflation Targets," Bank of England working papers 56, Bank of England.
  5. Whitney K. Newey & Kenneth D. West, 1986. "A Simple, Positive Semi-Definite, Heteroskedasticity and AutocorrelationConsistent Covariance Matrix," NBER Technical Working Papers 0055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Rudebusch, Glenn D & Svensson, Lars E O, 1998. "Policy Rules for Inflation Targeting," CEPR Discussion Papers 1999, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1998. "Interest-Rate Rules in an Estimated Sticky Price Model," NBER Working Papers 6618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Volker W. Wieland, 1998. "Monetary policy and uncertainty about the natural unemployment rate," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-22, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Douglas O. Staiger & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1997. "How Precise Are Estimates of the Natural Rate of Unemployment?," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 195-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Gordon, Robert J, 1996. "The Time-varying NAIRU and its Implications for Economic Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 1492, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Franco Modigliani & Lucas Papademos, 1975. "Targets for Monetary Policy in the Coming Year," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 6(1), pages 141-166.
  12. Edmund S. Phelps, 1968. "Money-Wage Dynamics and Labor-Market Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 678.
  13. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1997. "Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number rome97-1, May.
  14. Layard, R. & Bean, C., 1988. "Why Does Unemployment Persist?," Papers 321, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
  15. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1997. "The NAIRU, Unemployment and Monetary Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 33-49, Winter.
  16. Marco A. Espinosa-Vega & Steven Russell, 1997. "History and theory of the NAIRU: a critical review," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 2, pages 4-25.
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