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Optimal Central Bank Conservatism and Monopoly Trade Unions

  • Carsten Hefeker
  • Helge Berger
  • Ronnie Schlöb

The "conservative central banker" has come under attack recently. On the basis of models in which there is explicit interaction between trade union behavior and monetary policy, it has been argued that if 'trade unions' are averse to inflation, welfare will be lower with a conservative than with a liberal central bank. We reframe this discussion in a standard trade union model. We show that the case against the conservative central banker rests exclusively on the assumption of a strictly nominal outside option (for instance, unemployment benefits) for the union. There is no welfare gain associated with making the central bank less conservative than society, however, if the outside option is in real terms. As the nominal components of the trade union's outside option are mainly public transfers, we also show that the conservative central banker is always optimal if the government can choose the level of nominal unemployment benefits as well as the degree of central bank conservatism.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 02/44.

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Length: 29
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:02/44
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  1. Francesco Lippi, 2003. "Strategic Monetary Policy with Non-Atomistic Wage Setters," CEIS Research Paper 17, Tor Vergata University, CEIS.
  2. Eijffinger, S-C-W & de Haan, J, 1996. "The Political Economy of Central-Bank Independence," Princeton Studies in International Economics 19, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
  3. repec:dgr:kubcen:1998116 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  5. Henrik Jensen, 1993. "International monetary policy cooperation in economies with centralized wage setting," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 269-285, September.
  6. Cubitt, Robin P, 1992. "Monetary Policy Games and Private Sector Precommitment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 513-30, July.
  7. Lawler, Phillip, 2000. "Centralised Wage Setting, Inflation Contracts, and the Optimal Choice of Central Banker," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(463), pages 559-75, April.
  8. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-89, November.
  9. David Soskice & Torben Iversen, 2000. "The Nonneutrality Of Monetary Policy With Large Price Or Wage Setters," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(1), pages 265-284, February.
  10. Gruner, Hans Peter & Hefeker, Carsten, 1999. " How Will EMU Affect Inflation and Unemployment in Europe?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(1), pages 33-47, March.
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