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Inflation Targets: Practice Ahead of Theory
NBER
2024.06.25
Inflation targets were introduced well ahead of the development of the theory of inflation targeting. The practice was successful because it comprised a new set of procedures and institutions for setting monetary policy in a transparent and accountable fashion - “constrained discretion”; the later theory was less useful because it purported to be a theory of the determination of the price level. But inflation targeting does not constitute a new theory of the monetary transmission mechanism. The belief that it does led to the replacement of Milton Friedman’s dictum that “inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon” by the new dictum that “inflation is always and everywhere a transitory phenomenon”. This had unfortunate consequences during the recent inflation. The paper concludes with a discussion of the challenges facing inflation targets in the future.