The zero lower bound on inflation expectations
Inflation expectations affect the decisions of households, firms, and policymakers. Expectations of negative inflation can be particularly harmful and lead to deflationary spirals when nominal interest rates are near zero. This column uses survey evidence to show that households and firms almost never expect deflation, even when it is a clear possibility. This apparent zero lower bound on inflation expectations has important implications for macroeconomic dynamics and the effectiveness of monetary policy. Unconventional policies, such as forward guidance, which aim to increase inflation expectations may be less effective when expectations are stuck at the zero lower bound.