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Contracts, Credibility, and Disinflation

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  • Stanley Fischer

Abstract

Estimates of the cost of disinflation made before the recent reduction in the inflation rate varied widely. Estimates were made in terms of the sacrifice ratio -- the percentage points of GNP at an annual rate lost per percentage point reduction in the inflation rate. At one extreme it was argued thata resolute and credible monetary policy could reduce inflation virtually costlessly. At the other extreme were estimates that the sacrifice ratio exceeded 10. Costless immediate disinflation is not possible in an economy with long-term labor contracts. This paper sets out a simple contracting model of wage and output determination and uses it to calculate sacrifice ratios for a disinflation program, under the assumption that announced policy changes are immediately believed. Under this assumption disinflation with a structure of labor contracts like those of the United States would be less costly than typically estimated.The model is then modified to allow for the slow adjustment of expectations of policy to actual policy; sacrifice ratios then approach the ranges typically estimated. The sacrifice ratio for the current disinflation is calculated in the last section: the current disinflation was somewhat more rapid and less costly than previous estimates suggested. The calculated sacrifice ratio is consistent with the predictions of the simple contracting model.

Suggested Citation

  • Stanley Fischer, 1984. "Contracts, Credibility, and Disinflation," NBER Working Papers 1339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1339
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    1. Taylor, John B, 1980. "Aggregate Dynamics and Staggered Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 1-23, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter N. Ireland, 1997. "Stopping inflations, big and small," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 759-782.
    2. Bennett T. McCallum, 1984. "Credibility and monetary policy," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 105-135.
    3. Jonung, Lars & Fregert, Klas, 2008. "Inflation Targeting Is a Success, So Far: 100 Years of Evidence from Swedish Wage Contracts," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 2, pages 1-25.
    4. Sebastian Edwards, 1996. "A Tale of Two Crises: Chile and Mexico," NBER Working Papers 5794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Klas Fregert & Lars Jonung, 2007. "Policy rule evaluation by contract-makers: 100 years of wage contract length in Sweden," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 270, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    6. Ireland, Peter N., 1995. "Optimal disinflationary paths," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(8), pages 1429-1448, November.
    7. Harmanta, M. Barik Bathaluddin & Jati Waluyo, 2010. "Inflation Targeting under Imperfect Credibility Based on the Aggregate Rational Inflation-Targeting Model for Bank Indonesia (ARIMBI): Lessons from the Indonesian Experience," Occasional Papers, South East Asian Central Banks (SEACEN) Research and Training Centre, number occ50, April.
    8. Döpke, Jörg, 2004. "Real-time data and business cycle analysis in Germany," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2004,11, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    9. Ball, Laurence, 1995. "Disinflation with imperfect credibility," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 5-23, February.
    10. Chan G. Huh & Kevin J. Lansing, 1998. "Federal Reserve credibility and inflation scares," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 3-16.
    11. Neven Valev, 2000. "Building Monetary Credibility in a Transforming Economy," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0212, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    12. Sajid Anwar & S. Zahid Ali, 2007. "Exogenous Shocks and Exchange Rate Management in Developing Countries," Finance Working Papers 22245, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    13. Fregert, Klas & Jonung, Lars, 1998. "Monetary Regimes And Endogenous Wage Contracts: Sweden 1908-1995," Working Papers 1998:3, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 21 Apr 1999.

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