DEFINITION of 'Price Level Targeting'

A monetary policy goal of keeping overall price levels stable, or meeting a pre-determined price level target. The price level used as a barometer is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or some similarly broad measure of cost inputs. A central bank or monetary authority operating under a price level targeting system raises or lowers interest rates in order to keep the index level consistent from year to year.

BREAKING DOWN 'Price Level Targeting'

Price level targeting is similar to inflation targeting in that both establish targets for a price index like the CPI. However, where inflation targeting only looks forward (i.e., a 2% inflation target per year), price level targeting actually takes past years into account when conducting open market operations. So, if the price level rose by 2% in the previous year (from a theoretical base of 100 to 102), the price level would have to drop the next year in order to bring the price level back down to the 100 target level. This could mean more forceful action needs to be taken than would be required if inflation targeting were used.

Price level targeting is generally considered a risky policy stance, and one not used by any of the world's advanced economies. It is believed to bring more variability in inflation and employment in the short run compared to inflation targeting Most economies feel that a small amount of annual inflation is actually a good thing, up to about 2% per year.

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