DP2342 How Should Monetary Policy Be Conducted In An Era Of Price Stability?

Author(s): Lars E.O. Svensson
Publication Date: December 1999
Keyword(s): Credibility, Deflation, Inflation Target, Liquidity Trap, Price-Level Targeting
JEL(s): E42, E52, E58
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=2342

The paper discusses several issues related to how monetary policy should be conducted in an era of price stability. Low inflation (with base drift in the price level) and price-level stability (without such base drift) are compared, and a suitable loss function (corresponding to flexible inflation targeting) is discussed, including the index and level for the inflation target. Three ways of maintaining price stability are examined, namely (1) a commitment to a simple instrument rule, (2) "forecast targeting," and (3) monetary targeting. Both (1) and (3) are found to be inferior to forecast targeting. The benefits of credibility (private inflation expectations coinciding with the inflation target) are discussed. Credibility improves the tradeoff between inflation variability, output-gap variability and instrument variability and makes it easier for the central bank to meet is inflation target. The threat of deflation and a liquidity trap is examined. Transparent inflation targeting and a contingency plan with emergency measures, including a coordinated fiscal and monetary expansion, are likely to avoid a liquidity trap, but also contribute to escaping from one if already trapped.