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Henning Weber

21 September 2021
OCCASIONAL PAPER SERIES - No. 269
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Abstract
The ECB’s price stability mandate has been defined by the Treaty. But the Treaty has not spelled out what price stability precisely means. To make the mandate operational, the Governing Council has provided a quantitative definition in 1998 and a clarification in 2003. The landscape has changed notably compared to the time the strategy review was originally designed. At the time, the main concern of the Governing Council was to anchor inflation at low levels in face of the inflationary history of the previous decades. Over the last decade economic conditions have changed dramatically: the persistent low-inflation environment has created the concrete risk of de-anchoring of longer-term inflation expectations. Addressing low inflation is different from addressing high inflation. The ability of the ECB (and central banks globally) to provide the necessary accommodation to maintain price stability has been tested by the lower bound on nominal interest rates in the context of the secular decline in the equilibrium real interest rate. Against this backdrop, this report analyses: the ECB’s performance as measured against its formulation of price stability; whether it is possible to identify a preferred level of steady-state inflation on the basis of optimality considerations; advantages and disadvantages of formulating the objective in terms of a focal point or a range, or having both; whether the medium-term orientation of the ECB’s policy can serve as a mechanism to cater for other considerations; how to strengthen, in the presence of the lower bound, the ECB’s leverage on private-sector expectations for inflation and the ECB’s future policy actions so that expectations can act as ‘automatic stabilisers’ and work alongside the central bank.
JEL Code
E31 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Price Level, Inflation, Deflation
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
E58 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Central Banks and Their Policies
21 September 2021
OCCASIONAL PAPER SERIES - No. 266
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Abstract
The digitalisation workstream report analyses the degree of digital adoption across the euro area and EU countries and the implications of digitalisation for measurement, productivity, labour markets and inflation, as well as more recent developments during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and their implications. Analysis of these key issues and variables is aimed at improving our understanding of the implications of digitalisation for monetary policy and its transmission. The degree of digital adoption differs across the euro area/EU, implying heterogeneous impacts, with most EU economies currently lagging behind the United States and Japan. Rising digitalisation has rendered price measurement more challenging, owing to, among other things, faster changes in products and product quality, but also new ways of price setting, e.g. dynamic or customised pricing, and services that were previously payable but are now “free”. Despite the spread of digital technologies, aggregate productivity growth has decreased in most advanced economies since the 1970s. However, it is likely that without the spread of digital technologies the productivity slowdown would have been even more pronounced, and the recent acceleration in digitalisation is likely to boost future productivity gains from digitalisation. Digitalisation has spurred greater automation, with temporary labour market disruptions, albeit unevenly across sectors. The long-run employment effects of digitalisation can be benign, but its effects on wages and labour share depend on the structure of the economy and its labour market institutions. The pandemic has accelerated the use of teleworking: roughly every third job in the euro area/EU is teleworkable, although there are differences across countries. ...
JEL Code
E24 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy→Employment, Unemployment, Wages, Intergenerational Income Distribution, Aggregate Human Capital
E31 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Price Level, Inflation, Deflation
E32 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Business Fluctuations, Cycles
O33 : Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth→Technological Change, Research and Development, Intellectual Property Rights→Technological Change: Choices and Consequences, Diffusion Processes
O57 : Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth→Economywide Country Studies→Comparative Studies of Countries
27 July 2021
WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 2575
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Abstract
Using micro price data underlying the Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices in France, Germany and Italy, we estimate relative price trends over the product life cycle and show that minimizing price and mark-up distortions in the presence of these trends requires targeting a significantly positive inflation target. Relative price trends shift the optimal inflation target up from a level of zero percent, as suggested by the standard sticky price literature, to a range of 1.1%- 2.1% in France, 1.2%-2.0% in Germany, 0.8%-1.0% in Italy, and 1.1-1.7% in the Euro Area (three country average). Differences across countries emerge due to systematic differences in the strength of relative price trends. Other considerations not taken into account in the present paper may push up the optimal inflation targets further. The welfare costs associated with targeting zero inflation turn out to be substantial and range between 2.1% and 4.5% of consumption in present-value terms.
JEL Code
E31 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Price Level, Inflation, Deflation
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
Network
Price Micro Setting Analysis Network (PRISMA)
3 February 2020
WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 2370
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Abstract
Using the official micro price data underlying the U.K. consumer price index, we document a new stylized fact for the life-cycle behavior of consumer prices: relative to a narrowly defined set of competing products, the price of individual products tends to fall over the product lifetime. We show that this data feature has important implications for the optimal inflation target. Constructing a sticky-price model featuring a product life cycle and heterogeneous relative-price trends, we derive closed-form expressions for the optimal inflation target under Calvo and menu-cost frictions. We show how the optimal target can be estimated from the observed trends in relative prices. For the U.K. economy, we find the optimal target to be equal to 2.6% in 2016. It has steadily increased over the period 1996 to 2016 due to changes in relative price trends over this period.
JEL Code
E31 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Price Level, Inflation, Deflation