Working Paper

Tilting at Windmills: Bernanke and Blanchard’s Obsession with the Wage-Price Spiral

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How convincing is the model analysis by Bernanke and Blanchard? How empirically relevant are their mechanisms causing inflation – and how robust and plausible are their econometric findings?

Bernanke and Blanchard (2023) use a simple dynamic New Keynesian model of wage-price determination to explain the sharp acceleration in U.S. inflation during 2021-2023. They claim their model closely tracks the pandemic-era inflation and they confidently conclude that “… we don’t think that the recent experience justifies throwing out existing models of wage-price dynamics.” This paper argues that this confidence is misplaced. The Bernanke and Blanchard is another failed attempt to salvage establishment macroeconomics after the massive onslaught of adverse inflationary circumstances with which it could evidently not contend. It misrepresents American economic reality, hides distributional issues from view, de-politicizes (monetary and fiscal) policy-making, and sets monetary policymakers up to deliver significantly more monetary tightening than can be justified on the basis of more realistic model analyses.