We suggest looking at an old idea that is again attracting attention among monetary economists. Recast the target that the Fed and other central banks are told to follow. Instead of a target for low inflation plus an additional primary or secondary target of high employment, focus on the money value of output -- nominal gross domestic product unadjusted for inflation. This combines prices and output in a single number.As a matter of disclosure, I write for Bloomberg View but was not involved in their endorsement.
Suppose the target was 5 percent. Over the longer term, with the economy growing at 2 percent or a little more, inflation would be 3 percent or a little less, similar to the inflation targets most central banks (including the Fed) have adopted. Here’s the advantage: In the short term, the Fed would be on target if the economy were growing at 5 percent and inflation were zero, or if the growth were zero and inflation were 5 percent.
In other words, the system would call for faster-than- normal growth when inflation is too low, and faster-than-normal inflation when the economy is in a slump. Setting a nominal GDP target wouldn’t be telling the bank to choose between so much inflation and so many jobs, so you could still grant operational independence
We think it’s worth a careful look, and we’re convinced of one important advantage: This approach would make the bank’s actions easier to understand and explain.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Bloomberg Endorses NGDPLT
Bloomberg View's editorial board endorsed using monetary policy to target the path of nominal GDP yesterday -- making them, as far as I know, the first major media outlet in the United States to endorse the practice. Naturally, this is excellent news for supporters of NGDP level targeting like myself.