Optimal inflation targeting with anchoring
Thomas R. Michl Emeritus Professor, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York, USA

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Robert Rowthorn Emeritus Professor, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK

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This paper presents an alternative foundation to the standard quadratic loss function characterizing central bank inflation policy. The alternative treats high employment as a social benefit. In recognition of the inherent asymmetry of the output gap, two self-imposed constraints provide guardrails that rule out excess unemployment and opportunistic reflation. The loss function includes a novel reverse discounting mechanism that penalizes the bank for more sustained inflation gaps that could undermine confidence in the central bank’s target. In the absence of anchoring, the central bank is obliged to use economic slack to accomplish a disinflation but the presence of anchoring creates greater policy flexibility, freeing it from the tyranny of the sacrifice ratio. The central bank’s optimal policy differs dramatically from the standard Taylor Rule recommendation in choosing policy plans with higher employment, in its willingness to overshoot inflation targets, and in avoiding excess unemployment, all while observing the discipline needed for successful inflation targeting.

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Email: rer3@cam.ac.uk.

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