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The optimal rate of inflation with trending relative prices

  • Alexander L. Wolman

The relative prices of different categories of consumption goods have been trending over time. Assuming they are exogenous with respect to monetary policy, these trends imply that monetary policy cannot stabilize the prices of all consumption categories. If prices are sticky, monetary policy then must trade off relative price distortions within different categories of consumption. Optimally, more weight should be placed on stabilizing goods and services prices that are less flexible. Calibrating a simple sticky price model to U.S. data, we find that slight deflation is optimal, even absent transactions frictions leading to a demand for money. Optimality of deflation derives from the fact that relative prices have been trending up for services, whose nominal prices seem to be less flexible.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 09-02.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:09-02
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  1. Loyo, Eduardo, 2002. "Imaginary money against sticky relative prices," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 1073-1092, June.
  2. Jeremy Greenwood & Gokce Uysal, 2003. "New Goods and the Transition to a New Economy," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 5, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  3. Charles T. Carlstrom & Timothy S. Fuerst & Fabio Ghironi, 2002. "Does It Matter (for Equilibrium Determinacy) What Price Index the Central Bank Targets?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 533, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 07 Feb 2003.
  4. Huang, Kevin X.D. & Liu, Zheng, 2005. "Inflation targeting: What inflation rate to target?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1435-1462, November.
  5. Erceg, Christopher J. & Henderson, Dale W. & Levin, Andrew T., 2000. "Optimal monetary policy with staggered wage and price contracts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 281-313, October.
  6. Toyoichiro Shirota, 2007. "Optimal Trend Inflation and Monetary Policy under Trending Relative Prices," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 07-E-1, Bank of Japan.
  7. Aoki, Kosuke, 2001. "Optimal monetary policy responses to relative-price changes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 55-80, August.
  8. Benigno, Pierpaolo, 2004. "Optimal monetary policy in a currency area," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 293-320, July.
  9. Erceg, Christopher & Levin, Andrew, 2006. "Optimal monetary policy with durable consumption goods," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1341-1359, October.
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