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Is the NAIRU More Useful in Forecasting Inflation than the Natural Rate of Unemployment?

  • Claar, Victor V

Recent studies have indicated that the terms 'NAIRU' (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment) and 'natural rate of unemployment' are not interchangeable. While NAIRU is an empirical macroeconomic relationship estimated via a Phillips curve, the natural rate is an equilibrium condition in the labour market, reflecting the market's microeconomic features. This study evaluates comparatively the inflation-forecasting power of alternative time-varying estimates of the natural rate of unemployment relative to the NAIRU. The natural rate of unemployment in the USA since the Second World War is estimated. Three alternative methods are utilized: the Kalman filter, a structural determinants approach, and the Hodrick-Prescott filter. The section that follows assesses how each estimator of the natural rate compares with the others - as well as with the NAIRU derived from a Phillips curve - in forecasting inflationary changes in the USA in the second half of the twentieth century. The analysis reveals that the overall inflation-forecasting utility of the natural rate of unemployment relative to the NAIRU is not very different. Moreover, the conclusion appears to be quite robust to various estimators of the natural rate.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 14257.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Publication status: Published in Applied Economics 18.38(2006): pp. 2179-2189
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:14257
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  1. Apel, Mikael & Jansson, Per, 1998. "A Theory-Consistent System Approach for Estimating Potential Output and the NAIRU," Working Paper Series 74, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
  2. Grant, Alan P., 2002. "Time-varying estimates of the natural rate of unemployment: a revisitation of Okun's law," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 95-113.
  3. Roberts, John M, 1995. "New Keynesian Economics and the Phillips Curve," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 975-84, November.
  4. Coe, David T., 1989. "Structural Determinants of the Natural Rate of Unemployment in Canada," MPRA Paper 8623, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Ashenfelter, Orley & Card, David, 1986. "Why Have Unemployment Rates in Canada and the United States Diverged?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 53(210(S)), pages S171-95, Supplemen.
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  7. Beach, Charles M & MacKinnon, James G, 1978. "A Maximum Likelihood Procedure for Regression with Autocorrelated Errors," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 51-58, January.
  8. Robert J. Gordon, 1998. "Foundations of the Goldilocks Economy: Supply Shocks and the Time-Varying NAIRU," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 297-346.
  9. Gordon, Robert J, 1996. "The Time-varying NAIRU and its Implications for Economic Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 1492, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Robert G. King & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1995. "Temporal instability of the unemployment-inflation relationship," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue May, pages 2-12.
  11. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Danny Quah, 1988. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbances," NBER Working Papers 2737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Adams, Charles & Coe, David T., 1989. "A Systems Approach to Estimating the Natural Rate of Unemployment and Potential Output for the United States," MPRA Paper 8622, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Mikael Apel & Per Jansson, 1999. "System estimates of potential output and the NAIRU," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 373-388.
  14. Wieland, Volker, 2003. "Monetary Policy and Uncertainty about the Natural Unemployment Rate," CFS Working Paper Series 2003/05, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  15. Thomas Laubach, 1997. "Measuring the NAIRU : evidence from seven economies," Research Working Paper 97-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  16. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1996. "How Precise are Estimates of the Natural Rate of Unemployment?," NBER Working Papers 5477, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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.
  18. Madeline Zavodny, 1999. "Unions and the wage-productivity gap," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q2, pages 44-53.
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