Price level targeting vs inflation targeting

August 23, 2009

Professor Charles Goodhart of the London School of Economics explains the difference between inflation targeting and price level targeting in the lobby of Jackson Lake Lodge after taking part in an animated discussion of whether central banks should target price levels rather than inflation.

A paper University of California, Santa Cruz economist Carl Walsh presented at the Federal Reserve’s annual mountain retreat suggested that one lesson from the recent financial crisis is that central banks would benefit from the greater flexibility that price level targeting might give them.

A former Fed governor,  Frederic Mishkin, said that while in theory price level targeting may sound attractive, in actual practice it is more difficult to use effectively. One difficulty he cited was in explaining to consumers how it works. 

 Juergen Stark of the inflation-targeting European Central Bank, said that inflation targeting was working well for the ECB, and that changing tactics in a crisis would be inappropriate.

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