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What Measure of Inflation Should a Central Bank Target?


  • N. Gregory Mankiw
  • Ricardo Reis


This paper assumes that a central bank commits itself to maintaining an inflation target and then asks what measure of the inflation rate the central bank should use if it wants to maximize economic stability. The paper first formalizes this problem and examines its microeconomic foundations. It then shows how the weight of a sector in the stability price index depends on the sector's characteristics, including size, cyclical sensitivity, sluggishness of price adjustment, and magnitude of sectoral shocks. When a numerical illustration of the problem is calibrated to U.S. data, one tentative conclusion is that a central bank that wants to achieve maximum stability of economic activity should use a price index that gives substantial weight to the level of nominal wages.

Suggested Citation

  • N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2002. "What Measure of Inflation Should a Central Bank Target?," NBER Working Papers 9375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9375
    Note: EFG ME

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mark A. Wynne, 2008. "Core inflation: a review of some conceptual issues," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 205-228.
    2. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2002. "Sticky Information versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal to Replace the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1295-1328.
    3. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, January.
    4. Laurence Ball & David Romer, 1990. "Real Rigidities and the Non-Neutrality of Money," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 183-203.
    5. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
    6. Benigno, Pierpaolo, 2004. "Optimal monetary policy in a currency area," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 293-320, July.
    7. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro, 1987. "Monopolistic Competition and the Effects of Aggregate Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 647-666, September.
    8. J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1.
    9. Steinsson, Jon, 2003. "Optimal monetary policy in an economy with inflation persistence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(7), pages 1425-1456, October.
    10. Erceg, Christopher J. & Henderson, Dale W. & Levin, Andrew T., 2000. "Optimal monetary policy with staggered wage and price contracts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 281-313, October.
    11. Edmund Phelps, 1978. "Disinflation without recession: Adaptive guideposts and monetary policy," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 114(4), pages 783-809, December.
    12. Aoki, Kosuke, 2001. "Optimal monetary policy responses to relative-price changes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 55-80, August.
    13. Fischer, Stanley, 1977. "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 191-205, February.
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    JEL classification:

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

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