July 1999

Optimal Monetary Policy with Staggered Wage and Price Contracts

Christopher J. Erceg, Dale W. Henderson, and Andrew T. Levin


We formulate an optimizing-agent model in which both labor and product markets exhibit monopolistic competition and staggered nominal contracts. The unconditional expectation of average household utility can be expressed in terms of the unconditional variances of the output gap, price inflation, and wage inflation. Monetary policy cannot replicate the Pareto-optimal equilibrium that would occur under completely flexible wages and prices; that is, the model exhibits a tradeoff between stabilizing the output gap, price inflation, and wage inflation. The Pareto optimum is attainable only if either wages or prices are completely flexible. For reasonable calibrations of the model, we characterize the optimal policy rule. Furthermore, strict price inflation targeting is clearly suboptimal, whereas rules that also respond to either the output gap or wage inflation are nearly optimal.

Keywords: Inflation targeting, sticky wages, sticky prices, staggered contracts

PDF: Full Paper

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Last Update: February 05, 2021