November 2020

Price Level Risk and Some Long-Run Implications of Alternative Monetary Policy Strategies

James A. Clouse


This note focuses on the longer-run implications of alternative monetary policy strategies for the evolution of the price level. The analysis compares the properties of optimal policy in regimes ranging from pure inflation targeting (IT), to a form of weighted-average inflation targeting (WAIT), to pure price level targeting (PLT). Strategies such as WAIT and PLT tend to limit the downward drift in the path of the price level and also mitigate the uncertainty surrounding the expected path of the price level. The influence of alternative monetary policy strategies on the evolution of the price level may have some important long-run implications for entities or groups that rely heavily on long-term nominal debt. Some simple empirical estimates suggest the real value of existing Treasury debt could be boosted significantly in moving from a world in which the ZLB constraint rarely binds to one in which it regularly binds. Similarly, data from the Survey of Consumer Finances indicate that households at lower income levels, and particularly those with mortgage or educational loans outstanding, are exposed to significant price level risk. As a result, such households can experience a significant reduction in their real wealth, on average, in the transition to a world with frequently binding ZLB constraints. The WAIT and PLT regimes significantly mitigate these potential costs for these groups.

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Last Update: February 18, 2021