By Yasuo Hirose
Benhabib, Schmitt-Grohé, and Uribe (2001) argue for the existence of a deflation steady state when the zero lower bound on the nominal interest rate is considered in a Taylor-type monetary policy rule. This paper estimates a medium-scale DSGE model with a deflation steady state for the Japanese economy during the period from 1999 to 2013, when the Bank of Japan conducted a zero interest rate policy and the inflation rate was almost always negative. Although the model exhibits equilibrium indeterminacy around the deflation steady state, a set of specific equilibria is selected by Bayesian methods. According to the estimated model, shocks to households’ preferences, investment adjustment costs, and external demand do not necessarily have an inflationary effect, in contrast to a standard model with a targeted-inflation steady state. An economy in the deflation equilibrium could experience unexpected volatility because of sunspot fluctuations, but it turns out that the effect of sunspot shocks on Japan’s business cycles is marginal and that macroeconomic stability during the period was a result of good luck.
DSGE models had to break new ground with the zero lower bound on interest rates because of the inherent non-linearities. This is even more the case when the models are estimated. Here, the problem is even deeper, as Japan has had a long period of deflation, and the canonical model predicts indeterminacy. This paper shows that you can still estimate such a model, thanks to good old Bayes.