Flexible Inflation Targeting: Concepts and application in India
The paper analyses issues important in adapting flexible inflation targeting (FIT) to emerging markets. This sets the context in which the evolution of FIT in India and its performance record are analysed. The dominance of supply shocks implies flexibility and fiscal-monetary coordination are necessary. Coordination can reduce the output sacrifice of disinflation, even as it aids fiscal consolidation. Communication has a major role in guiding expectations towards the inflation target. Strict implementation of inflation targeting imposed a large output sacrifice in the early years, but reversal to flexible implementation, in line with the original agreement, succeeded in keeping inflation largely within announced tolerance bands with a good growth recovery. Forecasting has improved and errors in both directions indicate the absence of bias. While there were supportive events in the initial years, such as the 2014 crash in oil prices and softening of food price inflation, the regime has also survived adverse periods of pandemic related supply-chain snarls and rising oil prices. A long period of disinflation and output sacrifice need not be necessary to anchor inflation expectations when there is complementary supply-side action. Since policy has to respond if inflation persistently exceeds the tolerance band, this also contributes to anchoring inflation expectations.
Keywords:Flexible inflation targeting, India, Supply shocks, Expectations channel, market imperfections, coordination
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