Lucrezia Reichlin, Klaus Adam, Warwick J. McKibbin, Michael McMahon, Ricardo Reis, Giovanni Ricco, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 01 September 2021

The ECB signalled an historic shift in its 2020 strategy review. This column introduces a new CEPR report which argues that the review has moved the ECB in the right direction but leaves some key issues unaddressed. The report focuses on the definition of the ECB’s inflation target, its operational framework, fiscal and monetary policy interactions, and the implications for monetary policy of climate change and related mitigation initiatives. The authors identify topics to be addressed in future strategic reviews and provide a framework as a basis for this ongoing analysis.

Ignazio Angeloni, Daniel Gros, 16 July 2021

The outcome of the long-awaited second review of the ECB’s monetary policy strategy was communicated by the central bank on 8 July 2021. This column argues that the review constitutes a mixed bag. The asymmetry of the inflation target, a long standing source of ambiguity and potential policy mistakes, has been corrected by announcing a symmetric central target at 2%. But major ambiguities remain concerning the width of the tolerance band around 2%, the definition of the relevant price index, the interpretation of the inflation process, and the way monetary policy is prepared to team-up with fiscal authorities to preserve the euro’s stability going forward. All in all, the glass remains half-empty and the water it contains is somewhat muddy. 

Francesco Corsello, Stefano Neri, Alex Tagliabracci, 05 November 2019

Concerns about the anchoring of long-term inflation expectations to the ECB Governing Council’s aim have re-emerged since early 2019. Using data from the ECB’s Survey of Professional Forecasters, this column argues that long-term inflation expectations have de-anchored from the ECB’s inflation objective. They have not returned to the levels that prevailed before the 2013-14 period of disinflation, and their distribution is still skewed towards lower inflation levels. Moreover, long-term expectations have become sensitive to short-term ones and to negative inflation surprises. 

Philippe Andrade, Jordi Galí, Hervé Le Bihan, Julien Matheron, 01 October 2019

How to adjust to structurally lower real natural rates of interest is a challenging but inescapable issue for central bankers. Using simulation and US data, this column studies how changes in the steady-state natural interest rate affect the optimal inflation target. It finds that starting from pre-crisis values, a 1 percentage point decline in the natural rate should be accommodated by an increase in the optimal inflation target of about 0.9 to 1 percentage point. It also discusses alternatives to adjusting the target, such as non-conventional monetary policies. 

Simon Wren-Lewis, 03 July 2018

Maritta Paloviita, Markus Haavio, Pirkka Jalasjoki, Juha Kilponen, 24 October 2017

Price stability is an explicit target for the ECB, but the definition of the 2% target is less clear in its monetary policy stance over time. This column presents two alternative interpretations of the ECB’s definition of price stability. First, the ECB dislikes inflation rates above 2% more than rates below 2%. Second, the ECB’s policy responses to past inflation gaps are symmetric around a target of 1.6% to 1.7%. Out-of-sample predictions of the reaction function based on the second interpretation track well an estimated shadow interest rate during the zero lower bound period.

Marc Dordal i Carreras, Olivier Coibion, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Johannes Wieland, 21 September 2016

Models that estimate optimal inflation rates struggle to accurately account for interest rates reaching the zero lower bound, due to the lack of historical data available. This column suggests periods of hitting the zero lower bound are longer than previously thought, and models the optimal inflation rate target on this. Given the uncertainty associated with measuring the historical frequency and duration of such episodes, the wide range of plausible optimal inflation rates implies that any inflation targets should be treated with caution.

Laurence Ball, Joseph Gagnon, Patrick Honohan, Signe Krogstrup, 02 September 2016

This column presents the latest Geneva Report on the World Economy, in which the authors argue that central banks can do more to stimulate economies and restore full employment when nominal interest rates are near zero. Quantitative easing and negative interest rates have had beneficial effects so far and can be used more aggressively, and the lower bound constraint can be mitigated by modestly raising inflation targets.    


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