Simple efficient policy rules and inflation control in Iceland
In March 2001 Iceland introduced inflation targeting. In the three years that followed, inflation was quickly stabilized at the target rate and fluctuated well within the Central Bank's tolerance band. However, since February 2005 inflation has often been above the upper tolerance limit. This raises the question of how tightly is it feasible to control inflation in a very small open economy like Iceland. This paper attempts to provide some empirical answers to this question using small estimated macroeconomic models of Iceland, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. These models are used to derive efficient monetary policy frontiers that trace of the locus of the lowest combinations of inflation and output variability that are achievable under a range of alternative rules for operating monetary policy. These efficient policy frontiers illustrate that inflation stabilization is a considerably more daunting challenge in Iceland than in other industrial countries, even other very small industrial countries like New Zealand. The key reason for this result is the relative magnitudes of the shocks to which the economy is subjected. If inflation outside the target band undermines the credibility of monetary policy, thereby increasing the real cost of maintaining price stability, these results suggest that the inflation targeting framework will need to continue to evolve to reduce the probability that targeted inflation will breach the tolerance range. Further, other macroeconomic policy changes, such more systematic coordination between monetary and fiscal policy, should be considered to help further reduce inflation and output variability in Iceland.
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