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Rethinking the Role of NAIRU in Monetary Policy: Implications of Model Formulation and Uncertainty

  • Arturo Estrella
  • Frederic S. Mishkin

In this paper we rethink the NAIRU concept and examine whether it might have a useful role in monetary policy. We argue that it can, but success depends critically on defining NAIRU as a short-run concept and distinguishing it from a long-run concept like the natural rate of unemployment. We examine what effect uncertainty has on the use of NAIRU in policy. Uncertainty about the level of NAIRU does not imply that monetary policy should react less to the NAIRU gap. However, uncertainty about the effect of the NAIRU gap on inflation does require adjustments to the policy reaction function. Also, as in Brainard (1967), uncertainty about the effect of the monetary policy instrument on the NAIRU gap reduces the magnitude of the policy response. We estimate a simple NAIRU gap model for the United States to obtain quantitative measures of uncertainty and to assess how these measures affect our view of the policy reaction function.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6518.

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Date of creation: Sep 2000
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Publication status: published as Monetary Policy Rules, edited by John B. Taylor, pp. 405-430, 1999. The University of Chicago Press.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6518
Note: ME
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  1. Newey, Whitney K & West, Kenneth D, 1987. "A Simple, Positive Semi-definite, Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 703-08, May.
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  6. Gordon, Robert J, 1996. "The Time-varying NAIRU and its Implications for Economic Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 1492, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  12. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1998. "Interest-Rate Rules in an Estimated Sticky Price Model," NBER Working Papers 6618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Edmund S. Phelps, 1968. "Money-Wage Dynamics and Labor-Market Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 678.
  14. Franco Modigliani & Lucas Papademos, 1975. "Targets for Monetary Policy in the Coming Year," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 6(1), pages 141-166.
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  16. Marco A. Espinosa-Vega & Steven Russell, 1997. "History and theory of the NAIRU: a critical review," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 2, pages 4-25.
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