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Inflation Forecasts and Monetary Policy


  • Ben S. Bernanke
  • Michael Woodford


Proposals for 'inflation targeting' as a strategy for monetary policy leave open the important operational question of how to determine whether current policies are consistent with the long-run inflation target. An interesting possibility is that the central bank might target current private-sector forecasts of inflation, either those made explicitly by professional forecasters or those implicit in asset prices. We address the issue of existence and uniqueness of rational expectations equilibria when the central bank uses private-sector forecasts as a guide to policy actions. In a dynamic model which incorporates both sluggish price adjustment and shocks to aggregate demand and aggregate supply, we show that strict targeting of inflation forecasts is typically inconsistent with the existence of rational expectations equilibrium, and that policies approximating strict inflation-forecast targeting are likely to have undesirable properties. We also show that economies with more general forecast-based policy rules are particularly susceptible to indeterminacy of rational expectations equilibria. We conclude that, although private-sector forecasts may contain information useful to the central bank, ultimately the monetary authorities must rely on an explicit structural model of the economy to guide their policy decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben S. Bernanke & Michael Woodford, 1997. "Inflation Forecasts and Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 6157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6157
    Note: EFG ME

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sumner, Scott, 1995. "The Impact of Futures Price Targeting on the Precision and Credibility of Monetary Policy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 89-106, February.
    2. McCallum, Bennett T & Nelson, Edward, 1999. "An Optimizing IS-LM Specification for Monetary Policy and Business Cycle Analysis," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(3), pages 296-316, August.
    3. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Kahn, Charles M, 1980. "The Solution of Linear Difference Models under Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1305-1311, July.
    4. Mervyn King, 1994. "Monetary policy in the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 15(3), pages 109-128, August.
    5. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
    6. King, Robert G & Watson, Mark W, 1996. "Money, Prices, Interest Rates and the Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 35-53, February.
    7. Michael Woodford, 1996. "Control of the Public Debt: A Requirement for Price Stability?," NBER Working Papers 5684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Roberts, John M, 1995. "New Keynesian Economics and the Phillips Curve," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 975-984, November.
    9. David Mayes & Brendon Riches, 1996. "The effectiveness of monetary policy in New Zealand," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, vol. 59, March.
    10. Yun, Tack, 1996. "Nominal price rigidity, money supply endogeneity, and business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 345-370, April.
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    JEL classification:

    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy


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