NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Price Level Targeting vs. Inflation Targeting: A Free Lunch?

Lars E. O. Svensson

NBER Working Paper No. 5719
Issued in August 1996
NBER Program(s):   IFM   ME

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5719

Published: Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Vol. 31 (1999): 277-295.

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