Authors: Cinzia Alcidi, Matthias Busse and Daniel Gros
Series: CEPS Policy Brief No. 342
Central banks in the developed world are being misled into fighting the perceived dangers of a ‘deflationary spiral’ because they are looking at only one indicator: consumer prices.
This Policy Brief finds that while consumer prices are flat, broader price indices do not show any sign of impending deflation: the GDP deflator is increasing in the US, Japan and the euro area by about 1.2-1.5%. Nor is the real economy sending any deflationary signals either: unemployment is at record lows in the US and Japan, and is declining in the euro area while GDP growth is at, or above potential. Thus, the overall macroeconomic situation does not give any indication of an imminent deflationary spiral.
In today’s high-debt environment, the authors argue that central banks should be looking at the GDP deflator and the growth of nominal GDP, instead of CPI inflation. Nominal GDP growth, as forecasted by the major official institutions, remains robust and is in excess of nominal interest rates.
They conclude that if the ECB were to set the interest rate according to the standard rules of thumb for monetary policy, which take into account both the real economy and price developments of broader price indicators, it would start normalising its policy now, instead of pondering over additional measures to fight deflation, which does not exist. In short, economic conditions are slowly normalising; so should monetary policy.
Cinzia Alcidi is Head of Economic Policy Unit and LUISS Research Fellow at CEPS; Matthias Busse is Researcher at CEPS and Daniel Gros is Director of CEPS.