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The optimal inflation rate revisited

Author

Listed:
  • Giovanni Di Bartolomeo

    () (University of Teramo (Italy))

  • Patrizio Tirelli

    () (University of Milano Bicocca (Italy))

  • Nicola Acocella

    () (Department of Methods and Models for Economics, Territory and Finance MEMOTEF, Sapienza University of Rome (Italy))

Abstract

We challenge the widely held belief that New Keynesian models cannot predict an optimal positive inflation rate. In fact we find that even for the US economy, characterized by relatively small government size, optimal trend inflation is justified by the Phelps argument that the inflation tax should be part of an optimal (distortionary) taxation scheme. This mainly happens because, unlike standard calibrations of public expenditures that focus on public consumption-to-GDP ratios, we also consider the diverse, highly distortionary effect of public transfers to households. Our prediction of the optimal inflation rate is broadly consistent with recent estimates of the Fed inflation target. We also contradict the view that the Ramsey-optimal policy should minimize inflation volatility over the business cycle and induce near-random walk dynamics of public debt in the long run. In fact optimal fiscal and monetary policies should stabilize long-run debt-to-GDP ratios in order to limit tax (and inflation) distortions in steady state. This latter result is strikingly similar to policy analyses in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Di Bartolomeo & Patrizio Tirelli & Nicola Acocella, "undated". "The optimal inflation rate revisited," Working Papers 76/10, Sapienza University of Rome, Metodi e modelli per l'economia, il territorio e la finanza MEMOTEF.
  • Handle: RePEc:rsq:wpaper:2/10
    as

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    File URL: http://www.memotef.uniroma1.it/sites/dipartimento/files/wpapers/documenti/FullTextWP76.pdf
    File Function: October 2010
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jordi Galí & Pau Rabanal, 2005. "Technology Shocks and Aggregate Fluctuations: How Well Does the Real Business Cycle Model Fit Postwar U.S. Data?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 225-318 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Philip Du Caju & Erwan Gautier & Daphne Momferatu & Melanie Ward-Warmedinger, 2009. "Institutional Features of Wage Bargaining in 23 European Countries, the US and Japan," Ekonomia, Cyprus Economic Society and University of Cyprus, vol. 12(2), pages 57-108, Winter.
    3. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde & Juan F. Rubio-Ramírez, 2008. "How Structural Are Structural Parameters?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2007, Volume 22, pages 83-137 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Acocella, Nicola & Di Bartolomeo, Giovanni & Tirelli, Patrizio, 2015. "U.S. Trend Inflation Reinterpreted: The Role Of Fiscal Policies And Time-Varying Nominal Rigidities," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(06), pages 1294-1308, September.
    2. Nicola Acocella, "undated". "Teoria e pratica della politica economica: l’eredità del recente passato," Working Papers 104/13, Sapienza University of Rome, Metodi e modelli per l'economia, il territorio e la finanza MEMOTEF.
    3. Samuel Gil Martín, 2012. "Liquidity, Welfare and Distribution," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 59(2), pages 217-234, May.
    4. Alberto Bagnai, 2013. "Unhappy families are all alike: Minskyan cycles, Kaldorian growth, and the Eurozone peripheral crises," a/ Working Papers Series 1301, Italian Association for the Study of Economic Asymmetries, Rome (Italy).
    5. Nicola Acocella, "undated". "A tale of two cities: exit policies in Washington and Frankfurt," Working Papers 117/13, Sapienza University of Rome, Metodi e modelli per l'economia, il territorio e la finanza MEMOTEF.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    trend inflation; monetary and fiscal policy; Ramsey plan.;

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E59 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Other
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity

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