Brazilian indexing and inertial inflation: evidence from time-varying estimates of an inflation transfer function
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This paper is a theoretica1 and empirica1 study of the re1ationship between indexing po1icy and feedback mechanisms in the inflationary adjustment process in Brazil. The focus of our study is on two policy issues: (1) did the Brazilian system of indexing of interest rates, the exchange rate, and wages make inflation so dependent on its own past values that it created a significant feedback process and inertia in the behaviour of inflation in and (2) was the feedback effect of past inf1ation upon itself so strong that dominated the effect of monetary/fiscal variables upon current inflation? This paper develops a simple model designed to capture several 'stylized facts' of Brazi1ian indexing po1icy. Separate ru1es of 'backward indexing' for interest rates, the exchange rate, and wages, reflecting the evolution of po1icy changes in Brazil, are incorporated in a two-sector model of industrial and agricultural prices. A transfer function derived irom this mode1 shows inflation depending on three factors: (1) past values of inflation, (2) monetary and fiscal variables, and (3) supply- .shock variables. The indexing rules for interest rates, the exchange rate, and wages place restrictions on the coefficients of the transfer function. Variations in the policy-determined parameters of the indexing rules imply changes in the coefficients of the transfer function for inflation. One implication of this model, in contrast to previous results derived in analytically simpler models of indexing, is that a higher degree of indexing does not make current inflation more responsive to current monetary shocks. The empirical section of this paper studies the central hypotheses of this model through estimation of the inflation transfer function with time-varying parameters. The results show a systematic non-random variation of the transfer function coefficients closely synchronized with changes in the observed values of the wage-indexing parameters. Non-parametric tests show the variation of the transfer function coefficients to be statistically significant at the time of the changes in wage indexing rules in Brazil. As the degree of indexing increased, the inflation feadback coefficients increased, while the effect of external price and agricultura shocs progressively increased and monetary effects progressively decreased.