Inflation Targeting and Goodhart’s Law

Goodhart’s Law is the notion that when a central bank begins to respond to an indicator of monetary conditions,  market participants will come to expect those responses and trade on that basis.   The result can be an indicator of a monetary policy that changes, however, market participants believe the central bank wants it to change.

For example, the simple Keynesian monetary analysis suggests that an increase in the demand to hold money will result in higher money market interest rates.   It would seem reasonable that a central bank would watch money market interest rates, and when they rise, increase the quantity of money to accommodate the increase in the demand for money.

Goodhart’s law, however, suggests that market participants will come to expect this behavior by the central bank.   If interest rates were to rise, there would be a strong tendency by market participants to postpone security sales and an added motivation to purchase securities.   Alternatively, lenders would rush to take advantage of the ephemerally higher rates, while borrowers would wait for them to fall again.    In the limit, actual market interest rates would not change at all, remaining exactly where the market believes the central bank wants them.     With no changes in interest rates actually occurring, such interest rates provide no information on actual monetary conditions.

If the central bank’s goal is to keep money market interest rates at a certain level, then this isn’t a problem.   It is only a problem if the central bank has some other goal, and is using interest rates as an indicator as to whether monetary conditions are consistent with achieving that other goal.

Consider inflation targeting.    If inflation expectations are well anchored, then there will be a tendency for those actually setting prices to raise them at the rate the central bank believes is appropriate.  Suppose that prices would rise by less.  The typical product is relatively cheap, and so there is an incentive to postpone sales and anticipate future purchases.    In the limit, prices continue to rise at the rate the market believes the central bank believes is appropriate.

If the goal is to keep inflation on target, then this isn’t a problem.   Inflation stays on target despite spending on output failing to shift with productive capacity.   If, on the other hand, changes in inflation are used as a signal that spending on output is different from productive capacity, then Goodhart’s Law suggests the signal is attenuated.   Strongly anchored inflation expectations make inflation a poor signal of an output gap.

Taylor-rule regimes have two characteristics that help solve that problem.   Most importantly, conventional monetary policy depends on the output gap as well as the inflation rate.     If the inflation rate were very sticky due to Goodhart’s Law, then the observed output gap will result in shifts in monetary policy that bring spending on output back into equilibrium with productive capacity.

Those economists (apparently including Taylor himself,) who advocate focusing solely on inflation would take away that benefit of the Taylor rule.   Under such a system, fluctuations in spending on output, in real output, and employment could occur even while the inflation rate remains on target.   Further, to the degree that output gaps are measured by observing changes in inflation, then Goodhart’s Law suggests that output gaps will consistently be underestimated, and changes in output in response to changes in spending will be identified as changes in spending and output matching changes in potential output.   In other words, inflation fails to change and while output does change, the failure of inflation to change results in a change in the estimate of potential output.

The other characteristic of the Taylor rule that helps solve this problem is inflation rather than price level (growth path) targeting.   Suppose that a monetary authority targeted the growth path of the price level.   The motivation to keep actual prices on the target growth path would be much stronger if any temporary deviation were rapidly reversed.   For example, if prices actually did rise only one percent, they would be expected to rise 3% to return to the trend.  This more rapid increase in future prices gives a stronger incentive to postpone sales and increase purchases in anticipation of the price increases relative to a regime where prices are just expected to rise 2% from the current level.

However, much of this intuition implicitly assumes market clearing.    If firms are setting prices and wages based upon what they think everyone else will be doing, then the central bank’s 2 percent target creates a pretty obvious Schelling point.   Our pay offers must be consistent with inflation.   Our prices must cover our costs, including the wage bill.   Individual firms sales should expand if prices increase slightly less than what other firms are going to charge.

Paradoxically, if every single firm raises prices at the target inflation rate always, then the result is the exact same thing as a price level target.    A firm raises prices 2 percent, and sales are disappointing.   Do they raise prices less next period?   Not if they expect sales to improve enough to clear markets to give a  2% price increase.

Suppose they finally give up on the central bank and raise prices more slowly.   The central bank now gets the signal that demand is growing too slowly.   And what does the firm do next?   Do they continue to raise prices more slowly, or do they go back to raising prices 2 percent?   The central bank is supposed to raise demand enough so that raising prices 2%  will clear markets.   And then, does the central bank determine that everything is good because inflation is on target–prices rose 2%?

What is the solution to this problem?   Naturally, I would argue that it is nominal GDP level targeting.   Suppose Goodhart’s Law somehow causes firms to keep nominal GDP on target.   In my view, that isn’t a problem.   Just like someone who believes that the sole goal of monetary policy is to keep inflation on target, I think that the sole goal of monetary policy should be to keep spending on output on target.   If market participants keep nominal GDP on target in anticipation of the monetary authority’s actions, then that is an advantage.   Spending is where it should be.

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Madrid approves a law so that textbooks are free

  • As of the 2018-2019 academic year in public and private centers.
  • The loan system will benefit more than 615,000 students.
  • It will mean a saving of between 250 and 300 euros per child and academic year: “It is a respite for the families of Madrid on the September slope”.
  • The bill promoted by Citizens has had the support of all the groups in the Assembly.

Madrilenian students of Primary, Secondary and Basic Vocational Training will have free textbooks from the 2018/2019 academic year. This is reflected in the proposed law promoted in the Assembly of Madrid by Citizens, which was approved on Thursday after having been supported by all groups (PP, PSOE, and Podemos) in the Committee on Education and Sports after introducing some changes into the initial text.

Citizens estimated that the contribution to the program should be between 40 and 50 million euros in the first year The rule, which will affect more than 615,000 students in public and private schools, will provide the Community of Madrid with a free loan system of textbooks that will be universal, since until now the aid system was applied based on income. “The aid is very small, almost residual, this proposal looks at the middle classes, it will mean savings of between 250 and 300 euros per child and academic year, a respite for Madrid families on the September slope”, says the spokesman for Citizens in the regional chamber, Ignacio Aguado, who stresses that “the law defends the principles of universality and voluntariness.”

“The families that participate will not do it in a compulsory way as it happens in places like Navarra”, adds Aguado.

In order to benefit from the benefits of the system, interested parents will have to donate their children’s textbooks in good condition at the end of the next academic year 2017/2018 so that other children can use them. With this action, they will be part of the loan system and will receive the copies corresponding to the following course. Families must commit to taking care of the copies during the loan period. The management and distribution of books will be done in the school itself. “This will also teach children to learn the values of taking care of textbooks,” adds Aguado.

The Community of Madrid will finance the acquisition of the textbooks necessary for the start-up of the loan system, once those already contributed by the parents of the students have been deducted. Citizens estimate that the contribution to the program should be between 40 and 50 million euros in the first year, although this amount will foreseeably decrease in successive years.

Information campaign

Throughout the next course, the regional government must adopt all the normative and organizational measures for the application of the system as of the following course. Communication and awareness campaigns will be carried out by the educational centers to transmit to the educational community the essential aspects of the functioning of the system.

This norm began its journey almost a year ago. On June 23, 2016, it was already put to the vote in the Assembly for its consideration. Then, PSOE and Podemos voted in favor of the text and the PP abstained arguing that it was an electoral measure. The proposal went ahead with 76 votes in favor. The modifications that have been introduced in the last year have managed to convince the popular to give their support to the final text. Among the changes, highlights the extension of the standard to Basic Vocational Training and the inclusion in the text of digital books.

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Rental price brake: Government wants to tighten the law

Housing market The government wants to tighten the rental price break

  • This Wednesday, the Federal Cabinet wants to pass a bill to tighten the rental price break. It contains some significant improvements for tenants.
  • Among other things, owners should be required to inform the new tenants of the pre-rent early. There are also changes in modernization.
  • Angela Merkel invites you on September 21st to a presidential summit in the Chancellery.

Robert Rossmann is a graduate of the German School of Journalism. He studied economics, communication, and political science. At the age of 27, he became editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Previously, he had worked at Bayerischer Rundfunk. In 1997 Roßmann became deputy news head of the SZ, in 2000 he took over the management of the Bayern part. At the end of 2004, he moved to Berlin as a parliamentary correspondent. In 2007, he returned to Munich as the head of Newsdesk. Since 1 January 2012, he is deputy head of the parliamentary office in Berlin.

It took a long, very long time – and not only for the German Tenants’ Association for too long. This Wednesday, the Federal Cabinet wants to pass a bill to tighten the rental price break. With it also the so-called out modernizing of tenants from their homes is to be made more difficult. The then Federal Minister of Justice Heiko Maas (SPD) wanted to achieve both in the past legislative period, but the Union blocked his ideas.

Meanwhile, the situation in the rental housing market has worsened, especially in large and student cities. Maas’s successor, Katarina Barley (SPD), has already declared rents to be a “social issue of our time”. And in October, important state elections will take place in Hesse and Bavaria. Since a government can not allow a standstill without having to be afraid of being punished. For September 21, Angela Merkel has invited to a presidential summit in the Chancellery. It is important to show a success. This mixed situation has now made it easier for the SPD to move the Union towards a compromise that they had refused to grant Heiko Maas.

Locked up in your own home

Separate couples, families with children, retirees in much too large apartments – they all would like to move, but can not.

At the Coalition Committee meeting a week ago, the Union and SPD did not just agree on a pension package and changes in unemployment insurance. As a third compromise, the Coalitioners also noted at the end of their decision: “Until the Housing Summit, the Federal Government in the Cabinet, the Tenant Protection Act … decide.” For Justice Minister Barley, this was the long-awaited breakthrough.

Barley’s bill is titled: “A draft law supplementing the rules on the allowable rental amount at the beginning of the lease and to adapt the rules on the modernization of the rental property”. Behind the bulky headline are hidden some significant improvements for tenants. With the law, the government will “protect the tenants from repression and limit the consequences of modernization,” Barley has announced. The coalition will thus “prevent people in future from getting out of their homes and destroyed residential areas are destroyed.”

In order to achieve this, the government now wants, among other things, a duty of the owner to decide when renting an apartment interested parties before signing the contract the amount of the pre-rent. The already applicable rental price limit on the re-letting of apartments, although the amount – the new rent may not be more than ten percent above the local comparative rent. However, prospective tenants can not yet recognize whether the required rent is lawful. Because there are exceptions to the brake. For example, it generally does not apply to the first time you move into a new apartment. And on re-letting, the owner may demand the pre-rent from the new tenant, even if this is more than ten percent above the local comparative rent.

Barley sees this as one of the reasons why the rental price break has not yet worked as expected. The Minister refers to a combination of two points: On the one hand, you must hitherto as a tenant to make a so-called qualified complaint – so you must specify very precisely why the reported rent is too high. On the other hand, tenants in practice would have no knowledge of the amount of the pre-rent. This means that the information required for a complaint is unknown to most tenants. Barley now wants to change that with her lawyer. Not only is the obligation to provide information about the pre-rented area introduced, but also the procedure against excessive rent is made easier. In the future, a simple complaint will suffice, so tenants only have to state that the price brakes have been violated and do not explain this in detail.

There are also improvements for tenants in the apportionment of modernization costs

Compared to an earlier draft of the law, the information obligation of the landlord was even tightened. In the future, you will not only have to provide the pre-rent but also reveal all other possible reasons that permit an exception to the rental price break. These include, for example, extensive refurbishments or whether it is an apartment that was used and rented for the first time after 1 October 2014. This is to ensure that tenants can, in fact, detect in any conceivable case, even before the conclusion of the contract, whether the required rent is lawful.

Also with the modernization assessment, there are improvements for tenants. So far, owners can transfer eleven percent of the modernization costs to the tenant each year. There are owners who use this to evict tenants from their homes through intentionally over-renovations. In the future, landlords in areas with scarce housing should be able to move only ten instead of eleven percent on tenants. In addition, the government wants to introduce a cap on the increase in square meter rent. This can only be increased by a maximum of three euros within six years through modernization.

And what does the tenants’ association say? Although its director Lukas Siebenkotten praises “positive approaches”, they would make it easier to “pull the rent brake”. However, there will unfortunately still be too many “exceptions and special regulations” in the future, which limit the effect of the brake.


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Carnero opens the meetings to advise local entities on the new Public Sector Contracts Law

The president of the Diputación de Valladolid, Jesús Julio Carnero, today opened the first informative day on the new Public Sector Contracts Law that the provincial institution has organized to mark the forthcoming entry into force of the new regulation, which will be effective from next March 9.

As Jesús Julio Carnero recalled, this upcoming entry into force of the law passed last November obliges to know the news and the implications that the new contracting rule entails for local entities, given that administrative contracting occupies an important part of the activity of these as administrations closer to the citizen.

After noting that, once again, the Diputación de Valladolid fulfills its reason d’être, which is nothing other than carrying out a permanent work of support, assistance, and cooperation with the municipalities, especially the smallest, Carnero has focused on some aspects of the new Law that tries to design a system of public procurement that pursues four specific objectives.

First, to provide public procurement with greater transparency, efficiency, control, and integrity. Second, simplify procedures and facilitate contracting with SMEs. And finally, implement policies on social, environmental, innovation and development, and defense of competition.


The president has stated that “adaptation to all the novelties of the Law is a major challenge for local entities, especially for the provincial councils in their role of advising and legal and technical cooperation to the smaller municipalities, in order to be able to achieve a more effective management of public contracts “.

In this regard, he recalled that the law insists on three key aspects. On the one hand, it requires greater planning and motivation for the public purchase of goods, services, and supplies. Secondly, and following the principles of the European Union, the law puts all its efforts into advertising the contract award procedures and their subsequent incidents, requiring the publication of all information in a Profile of the Employer that must be lodged of obligatory form in the Platform of Contracting of the Public Sector.

And finally, the European Union has promoted the professionalization of the entire recruitment process and this is manifested both in requirements for the personnel that manages the contracting procedures and when it comes to meeting the formal requirements that it demands.


The second part of the day has been dedicated to the analysis of the current situation around the Law of Budgetary Stability, Rule of Expenditure and Sustainable Investments.

In this regard, the president of the Diputación de Valladolid recalled that the economic crisis forced to establish in 2011 the Law of Budgetary Stability and Financial Sustainability and the concept of the Rule of Expenditure.

“But now, in the phase of overcoming the economic crisis, the truth is that a large majority of local entities are healthy, with very high treasury surpluses that hardly contribute revenue to the entities themselves, which has allowed a significant reduction in the debt, “says Carnero, who adds to the difficulty to use the surplus and surpluses.

For all this, and after remembering that local entities have been demanding, in addition to adequate and sufficient funding, that the Expenditure Rule be reviewed, “because they have been showing for a long time that they are healthy and balanced administrations and doing more than they can without having sufficient resources for it “, Jesús Julio Carnero has asked” that the announcement of the Minister of Finance and Public Administrations that a meeting of the National Commission of Local Administrations to carry out a redefinition will be convened promptly of the concept of financially sustainable investment and the Rule of Expenditure.


Carnero has finished his speech assuring that once again the Diputación de Valladolid is exerting an important work of support, assistance, and cooperation to the municipalities at a time when they can hardly respond to the constant news and obligations imposed by the legislator.

Today’s session was attended by speakers such as Jesús Mozo Amo, magistrate-judge of Contentious-Administrative and Secretary of Local Administration on leave, and Mª José Monzón Mayo, auditor of the Madrid City Council.

Today is the first of a series of information and advice days that will continue in the coming weeks, with different meetings in the territory, the first of them on Friday, March 9 in La Seca.

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