Stiglitz on Inflation Targeting

Joseph E. Stiglitz “The Failure of Inflation Targeting”


Today, inflation targeting is being put to the test – and it will almost certainly fail. Developing countries currently face higher rates of inflation not because of poorer macro-management, but because oil and food prices are soaring, and these items represent a much larger share of the average household budget than in rich countries. In China, for example, inflation is approaching 8% or more. In Vietnam, it is even higher and is expected to approach 18.2% this year, and in India it is 5.8% . By contrast, US inflation stands at 3%. Does that mean that these developing countries should raise their interest rates far more than the US?

Inflation in these countries is, for the most part, imported . Raising interest rates won’t have much impact on the international price of grains or fuel. Indeed, given the size of the US economy, a slowdown there might conceivably have a far bigger effect on global prices than a slowdown in any developing country, which suggests that, from a global perspective, US interest rates, not those in developing countries, should be raised.

So long as developing countries remain integrated into the global economy – and do not take measures to restrain the impact of international prices on domestic prices – domestic prices of rice and other grains are bound to rise markedly when international prices do. For many developing countries, high oil and food prices represent a triple threat: not only do importing countries have to pay more for grain, they have to pay more to bring it to their countries and still more to deliver it to consumers who may live a long distance from ports.