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In 2012, the Federal Reserve adopted a 2 percent target for inflation to firmly anchor longer-term inflation expectations. Since then, inflation has averaged about 1.4 percent. Modern theories suggest that inflation should eventually gravitate toward measures of longer-run inflation expectations. The tendency for inflation to reside below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent inflation target over much of the past decade raises questions of whether longer-run inflation expectations are anchored—and, if so, whether they are anchored below 2 percent.

Brent Bundick and A. Lee Smith argue that the Federal Reserve’s communication of a numerical objective for inflation better anchored longer-term inflation expectations; however, Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) projections for longer-run inflation from 2009–11 may have anchored them below 2 percent. The authors present evidence that the 2009 addition of longer-run inflation to the FOMC’s Summary of Economic Projections (SEP), together with the eventual adoption of a longer-run 2 percent inflation objective in 2012, made investors’ inflation expectations more stable. At the same time, SEP projections for longer-run inflation from 2009 to 2011 generally resided below 2 percent, which may have led inflation expectations to anchor below 2 percent.

Publication information: Vol. 106, no. 1
DOI: 10.18651/ER/v106n1BundickSmith


Brent Bundick

Sr. Research and Policy Advisor

Brent Bundick is a Senior Research and Policy Advisor in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He rejoined the Department in 2014 after com…

A. Lee Smith

Senior Vice President

Andrew Lee Smith is a Senior Vice President and Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. In this role, Lee has oversight of macroeconomic research and serves as an a…