DP1510 | Price-level Targeting versus Inflation Targeting: A Free Lunch?


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Price-level targeting (without base drift) and inflation targeting (with base drift) are compared under commitment and discretion, with persistence in unemployment. Price-level targeting is often said to imply more short-run inflation variability and thereby more employment variability than inflation targeting. Counter to this conventional wisdom, under discretion a price-level target results in lower inflation variability than an inflation target (if unemployment is at least moderately persistent). A price-level target also eliminates the inflation bias under discretion and, as is well known, reduces long-term price variability. Society may be better off assigning a price-level target to the central bank even if its preferences correspond to inflation targeting. A price-level target thus appears to have more advantages than commonly acknowledged.