Working Paper BETA #2000-03

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Title : Wage Indexation, Central Bank Independence and the Cost of Disinflation

Author(s) : Giuseppe DIANA

Abstract : Recently, Fischer [1996] and Posen [1998] demonstrated empirically that countries with less independent central banks enjoy lower output losses during disinflationary cycles. Since independence is presume to provide a credibility bonus to the monetary policy, this conclusion looks surprising. To explain their paradoxical result, these authors put forward that independent central banks probably face a flatter short-run Phillips curve. In this paper, we provide a formal demonstration of this point. More precisely, we demonstrate that the private sector has less incentive to index its nominal wages when the central bank is granted with a large amount of independence. Since an increased indexation steepens the short-run Phillips curve, our result is consistent with the view that where central bank independence is greater, the cost of disinflation is higher. Our empirical tests, for a sample of 19 OECD countries, support our theoretical analysis. In particular, a negative and significant relationship is found between indexation and independence.

Key-words : Central bank independence, indexation, sacrifice ratio

JEL Classification : E52, E58