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Optimal Stabilization Policy When Wages and Prices are Sticky: The Case of a Distorted Steady State

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  • Pierpaolo Benigno
  • Michael Woodford

Abstract

Erceg et al. (2000) show that when both wages and prices are sticky, maximization of expected utility is equivalent to minimizing a loss function with three terms, involving measures of the variability of wage inflation, price inflation and the output gap respectively. Here we generalize their analysis, most importantly by not assuming the existence of output and employment subsidies that eliminate the distortions resulting from market power in goods and labor markets, so that the equilibrium level of output under flexible wages and prices would not necessarily be optimal. We show that a quadratic loss function can still be justified that involves the same three terms, albeit with different relative weights and a different definition of the output gap. Many conclusions of Erceg et al. are thus found to apply more generally. However, we argue that in the presence of significant steady-state distortions, simple rules of the kind that they examine are likely to approximate optimal policy less closely than is suggested by their numerical results.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2004. "Optimal Stabilization Policy When Wages and Prices are Sticky: The Case of a Distorted Steady State," NBER Working Papers 10839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10839
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2005. "Inflation Stabilization And Welfare: The Case Of A Distorted Steady State," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(6), pages 1185-1236, December.
    2. Mark Gertler & Jordi Gali & Richard Clarida, 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
    3. Kim, Jinill & Henderson, Dale W., 2005. "Inflation targeting and nominal-income-growth targeting: When and why are they suboptimal?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1463-1495, November.
    4. Christopher J. Erceg & Dale W. Henderson & Andrew T. Levin, 2019. "Optimal Monetary Policy with Staggered Wage and Price Contracts," Credit and Capital Markets, Credit and Capital Markets, vol. 52(4), pages 537-571.
    5. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: I. General Theory," Levine's Bibliography 506439000000000384, UCLA Department of Economics.
    6. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
    7. Michael Woodford, 1999. "Commentary : how should monetary policy be conducted in an era of price stability?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 277-316.
    8. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1997. "An Optimization-Based Econometric Framework for the Evaluation of Monetary Policy," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 297-361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Mark Gertler & Jordi Gali & Richard Clarida, 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
    10. Marc Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2004. "Optimal Inflation-Targeting Rules," NBER Chapters, in: The Inflation-Targeting Debate, pages 93-172, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination

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