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The negative side of inflation targeting: revisiting inflation uncertainty in the EMU

Neil Lawton and Liam Gallagher ()

Applied Economics, 2020, vol. 52, issue 29, 3186-3203

Abstract: This article tests the Friedman–Ball hypothesis for the European Monetary Union (EMU) countries, using a GARCH methodology. The empirical results show a positive relationship between inflation and inflation uncertainty, largely supportive of the Friedman–Ball hypothesis. Furthermore, the ECB’s price stability mandate is found to have asymmetric, if not limited, effects on inflation uncertainty since 1999, with the findings different for the so-called peripheral countries when compared to the core. For the majority of the EMU countries, shifts away from the 2% target served to increase inflation uncertainty. The credibility of the ECB since the financial crisis, in attempting to meet its 2% inflation target has seen inflation uncertainty increase for some, likely driven by inflation failing to re-anchor. Furthermore, recent periods of deflation are found to generate inflation uncertainty, with short-term price variability increasing in line with observed negative price growth for the majority of the EMU countries. The results are supportive of a U-shaped relationship between inflation and inflation uncertainty. Using spline techniques, we formally provide support for such a U-shaped relation where inflation uncertainty broadly increases below a certain threshold for each country’s inflation rate. Asymmetric effects across countries are found in the level of this threshold.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2019.1707764

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