Authors: Thomas Laubach and Adam Posen
Does the adoption of an inflation target by a country have an effect on that country's rate of inflation and on inflation's interaction with real economic variables? Does inflation targeting alter private-sector expectations? The question of effectiveness must be posed as a counterfactual—did target adopting countries find economic benefits they would not have found had they not targeted? We offer three sets of measurements of the effect of inflation targeting: the first concerning whether the disinflation has been acheived at lower cost, or whether inflation has come down in targeters to a greater extent that we would attribute to normal cyclical factors; second, concerning whether the interactions between inflation, monetary policy, and real variables have changed; and the third concerning whether private-sector inflation expectations have come down after targeting beyond that usually associated with a drop in inflation. We consider the performance of New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Sweden on these measures versus three baselines: their own past patterns prior to adoption; the performance of similar countries, Italy and Australia, which did not adopt targets; and the performance of two nominal targeters of long-standing, Germany and Switzerland, over the same period. We find that inflation targeting has had measurable effects on expectations and on the course of short-term interest rates, but that sacrifice ratios and Phillips curves remain unchanged in targeting countries.