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Extra resources for Brookings Papers on Economic Activity: Fall 2009
Arguably, the applica- JOHN C. WILLIAMS 33 tion of some of these approaches over the past two years has helped combat the massive shocks that have buffeted the global economy. Improving these policies and developing new ones into systematic, predictable responses to economic conditions will help make them more effective in the future. In addition, an important lesson from the recent crisis, not addressed in this paper, is the critical need for effective regulation and supervision of financial markets to avoid the shocks to the global economy that ignited the crisis and led to recession.
Hence, the central bank’s opportunity to commit itself to a systematic approach to policy is not used to create expectations about how policy will be conducted after an episode in which the zero bound is reached that respond in any way to that situation. In fact, the advantage of a higher inflation target in the simulations in this paper derives entirely from the consequences of having people expect a higher inflation target immediately following the exit from a period in which the zero bound has been a binding constraint; the expectation of a higher inflation rate at that time lowers the expected real rate implied by the zero nominal interest rate floor, and this reduces the distortions caused by the existence of that floor.
An inflation target of 2 percent suffers a small increase in output variability. This specification for the fiscal reaction function is in no way meant to be optimal or even desirable, but rather is intended only to illustrate the effects of countercyclical fiscal policy aimed at mitigating the effects of the ZLB on the economy. Further research is needed in this area to devise better countercyclical fiscal policy rules. C. Unconventional Monetary Policy Actions The preceding discussion and analysis abstracted from unconventional monetary actions, implicitly assuming that these are not used or are ineffective.