The unemployment rate ended 2018 at just under 4%, substantially lower than most estimates of the natural rate. Could such an ostensibly tight labor market lead to a sharp pickup in wage growth from its recent moderate pace, such that the relationship between wage growth and unemployment is not always linear? Investigations using state-level data show no economically significant nonlinearity between wage growth and unemployment that would predict an abrupt jump in wage growth.
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This paper applies a standard New Keynesian model to analyze the effects of monetary policy in the presence of a low natural rate of interest and a lower bound on interest rates. Under a standard inflation-targeting approach, inflation expectations will be anchored at a level below the inflation target, which in turn exacerbates the deleterious effects of the lower bound on the economy. Two key themes emerge from our analysis. First, the central bank can mitigate this problem of a downward bias in inflation expectations by following an average-inflation targeting framework that aims for above-target inflation during periods when policy is unconstrained. Second, a dynamic strategy such as price-level targeting that raises inflation expectations when inflation is low can both anchor expectations at the target level and potentially further reduce the effects of the lower bound on the economy.