DP2722 | Do We Know How Low Inflation Should Be?

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27/03/2001

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Abstract

The Paper looks for evidence of grease and sand effects in Europe, in particular the possibility that the natural rate of unemployment is affected by the inflation rate. Looking at four countries, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the Paper reports some preliminary evidence that the long-run rate of unemployment is a non-linear function of inflation. The particular shape of the empirical relationship supports the view that a moderate level of inflation provides some ?grease? to the price and wage setting process. In particular, the long-run rate of unemployment is found to reach a maximum of between 0.5% and 1%, and to decline quickly for higher rates of inflation. For the range of inflation rates observed in the sample countries, there is no evidence of sand effects, that uncertainty associated with inflation adversely affect the long-run rate of unemployment.