On Quality Bias and Inflation Targets
11 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2009 Last revised: 19 Nov 2009
Date Written: November 2009
A policy issue central banks are confronted with is whether inflation targets should be adjusted to account for the systematic upward bias in measured inflation due to quality improvements in consumption goods. We show that in the context of a Ramsey equilibrium the answer to this question depends on what prices are assumed to be sticky. If nonquality-adjusted prices are assumed to be sticky, then the Ramsey plan predicts that the inflation target should not be corrected. If, on the other hand, quality-adjusted (or hedonic) prices are assumed to be sticky, then the Ramsey plan calls for raising the inflation target by the magnitude of the bias.
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