The Clash of Central Bankers with Labor Market Insiders, and the Persistence of Unemployment and Inflation in the Main Industrial Economies

This paper analyzes the implications of optimal monetary policy for the dynamic behavior of inflation in a “natural rate” model characterized by endogenous unemployment persistence. We analyze a dynamic “insider outsider” model of the “Phillips Curve”, that accounts for the persistence of unemployment following nominal and real shocks. We derive optimal monetary policy under both discretion and commitment to an inflation target. We demonstrate that under discretion, because of the endogenous persistence of deviations of unemployment from its “natural” rate, deviations of inflation from target display the same degree of persistence as unemployment. Under full commitment to an inflation target there is no inflation persistence. An empirical investigation for the main industrial economies suggests that the persistence of deviations of inflation from a constant inflation target is of the same order of magnitude as the persistence of deviations of unemployment from its “natural” rate. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis put forward in this paper, of a clash between central bankers and labor market insiders, that cause both unemployment and inflation to persist.

Keywords: unemployment persistence, inflation, monetary policy, insiders outsiders, central banks

JEL Classification: E3, E4, E5

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Unemployment Persistence, Inflation and Monetary Policy in A Dynamic Stochastic Model of the Phillips Curve

This paper puts forward an alternative “new Keynesian” dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model of aggregate fluctuations. The model is characterized by one period nominal wage contracts and endogenous persistence of deviations of unemployment from its natural rate. Aggregate fluctuations are analyzed under both a Taylor nominal interest rate rule and under the assumption of optimal discretionary monetary policy. Under both types of monetary policy, the persistence of unemployment results in persistent inflation as the central bank responds to deviations of unemployment from its natural rate. Econometric evidence from the United States since the 1890s cannot reject the main predictions of the model.

Keywords: aggregate fluctuations, unemployment persistence, inflation, monetary policy, insiders outsiders, natural rate
JEL Classification: E3, E4, E5

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On the Taylor Rule and Optimal Monetary Policy in a “Natural Rate” Model

This paper investigates the stabilizing role of monetary policy in a dynamic, stochastic general equilibrium model of the “natural rate”, in which non indexed nominal wages are periodically set by labor market “insiders”. This nominal distortion allows for nominal shocks to have temporary real effects, and thus, for monetary policy to be able to affect short run fluctuations in both inflation and real output. We derive and analyze optimal monetary policy in the presence of real and nominal shocks, and highlight the properties of the optimal monetary policy rule. The optimal policy rule is second best, as it cannot completely neutralize productivity shocks, and is associated with a tradeoff between the stabilization of inflation and output. We also demonstrate that the optimal policy can be replicated by a set of appropriately parametrized Taylor rules, according to which deviations of the current nominal interest rate from its “natural” rate, depend on deviations of inflation from target and output from its “natural” level. We prove that the optimal Taylor rule is not unique, as multiple sets of parameters are consistent with optimality. Provided that the monetary authorities attach a sufficiently low weight to deviations of output from its “natural” level, the optimal policy could also be replicated through a unique, appropriately parametrized Wicksell rule, according to which deviations of the nominal interest rate from its “natural” rate depend only on deviations of inflation from target. The optimal set of Taylor rules is a set of simple, but not too simple rules, as, the nominal interest rate must react to changes in the “natural” rate of interest, in addition to deviations of inflation from target, and output from its “natural”level.

Discussion Paper no. 5-2015, Department of Economics, Athens University of Economics and Business

PDF of Revised Paper, May 2016