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Unit Total Costs: An Alternative Marginal Cost Proxy for Inflation Dynamics

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  • George J. Bratsiotis
  • Wayne A. Robinson

Abstract

The conventional New Keynesian Phillips Curve (NKPC), driven by unit labor costs has been criticized for failing to match inflation dynamics and for explaining the duration of fixed price contracts. This paper extends recent attempts in the literature to find an alternative marginal cost proxy for the NKPC, by introducing a fuller marginal cost proxy, 'unit total costs' that is derived from both labor and non-labor unit costs, where the latter includes, capital related costs and production taxes. Borrowing costs are also examined separately, as in the cost channel literature. Unit total costs are shown to improve the fit of the short-run variation in inflation and strengthen the empirical support for the role of expectations-based inflation persistence. They also imply a duration of fixed nominal contracts that is closer to those suggested by firm-level surveys. The cost channel becomes relatively less important when unit total costs, rather than unit labor costs, are used as a marginal cost proxy.

Suggested Citation

  • George J. Bratsiotis & Wayne A. Robinson, 2014. "Unit Total Costs: An Alternative Marginal Cost Proxy for Inflation Dynamics," Centre for Growth and Business Cycle Research Discussion Paper Series 192, Economics, The Univeristy of Manchester.
  • Handle: RePEc:man:cgbcrp:192
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    1. Chatelain, Jean-Bernard & Ralf, Kirsten, 2017. "Can we Identify the Fed's Preferences?," EconStor Preprints 149993, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    2. Chatelain, Jean-Bernard & Ralf, Kirsten, 2017. "Hopf Bifurcation from new-Keynesian Taylor rule to Ramsey Optimal Policy," EconStor Preprints 158001, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.

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