September 2015 issue contents
Inflation Targeting and Economic Reforms in New Zealand

by Matteo Cacciatorea, Fabio Ghironib, and Stephen J. Turnovskyc


We study the consequences of economic reforms in New Zealand since the beginning of the 1990s. Inflation targeting became the monetary policymaking framework of the RBNZ in 1990. In the years that followed, New Zealand implemented labor market reform and became increasingly integrated in world trade. We use a New Keynesian model with rich trade microfoundations and labor market dynamics to study the performance of inflation targeting versus alternative monetary policy rules for New Zealand in relation to these market characteristics and reforms. We show that nominal income targeting would have been a better choice than inflation targeting or price-level targeting prior to market reforms by delivering more stable unemployment dynamics in a distorted economic environment. Nominal income targeting would also have been better than inflation targeting with respect to the transition costs of labor market reforms, though inflation targeting allowed for better management of the transition after trade integration. With New Zealand in its new long-run environment of integrated trade and flexible labor markets, the welfare gap between nominal income targeting and price/inflation targeting declines, as market reforms lower unemployment volatility.

JEL Codes: E24, E32, E52, F16, F41, J64.

Full article (PDF, 54 pages, 1503 kb)

Discussion by Michael Reddell

a HEC MontrĂ©al 
b University of Washington, CEPR, EABCN, and NBER 
c University of Washington and CESifo