Towards a New Keynesian theory of the price level

Working papers set out research in progress by our staff, with the aim of encouraging comments and debate.
Published on 10 July 2015

Working Paper No. 532
By John Barrdear

Modifying the standard New-Keynesian model to replace firms' full information and sticky prices with flexible prices and dispersed information, and imposing mild and plausible restrictions on the monetary authority's decision rule, produces the striking results that (i) there exists a unique and globally stable steady-state rate of inflation, despite the possibility of a lower bound on nominal interest rates; and (ii) in the vicinity of steady-state, the price level is determinate (and not just the rate of inflation), despite the central bank targeting inflation. The specification of firms' signal extraction problem under dispersed information removes the need to make use of Blanchard-Kahn conditions to solve the model, thereby removing the need to adhere to the Taylor principle and consequently circumventing the critique of Cochrane (2011). The model admits a determinate, stable solution with no role for sunspot shocks when the monetary authority responds by less than one-for-one to changes in expected inflation, including under an interest rate peg. An extension to include incomplete information on the part of the central bank permits the consideration of (rational) errors of judgement on the part of policymakers and provides a theoretical basis for inertial policymaking without interest rate smoothing, in support of Rudebusch (2002, 2006).

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