Here is the abstract of Malmendier's paper with Steven Nagel titled "Learning from Inflation Experiences":
How do individuals form expectations about future inflation? We propose that past inflation experiences are an important determinant absent from existing models. Individuals overweigh inflation rates experienced during their life-times so far, relative to other historical data on inflation. Differently from adaptive-learning models, experience-based learning implies that young individuals place more weight on recently experienced inflation than older individuals since recent experiences make up a larger part of their life-times so far. Averaged across cohorts, expectations resemble those obtained from constant-gain learning algorithms common in macroeconomics, but the speed of learning differs between cohorts.
Using 54 years of microdata on inflation expectations from the Reuters/Michigan Survey of Consumers, we show that differences in life-time experiences strongly predict differences in subjective inflation expectations. As implied by the model, young individuals place more weight on recently experienced inflation than older individuals. We find substantial disagreement between young and old individuals about future inflation rates in periods of high surprise inflation, such as the 1970s. The experience effect also helps to predict the time-series of forecast errors in the Reuters/Michigan survey and the Survey of Professional Forecasters, as well as the excess returns on nominal long-term bonds.
Malmendier and Nagel's paper over a time period covering several monetary policy regimes, which differ markedly from that of Japan. But a related paper by David Blanchflower and Conall Mac Coille focuses on the UK, which practices inflation targeting. "The Formation of Inflation Expectations: an Empirical Analysis for the UK" (2009) includes a summary of why inflation expectations matter for monetary policy, and how this is relevant to inflation targeting:
In the neo-Keynesian model (see, for example, Clarida et al. 2000), sticky prices result in forward looking behaviour; inflation today is a function of expected future inflation as well as the pressure of demand, captured in an output gap term. Thus, expectations are deemed to be an important link in the monetary transmission mechanism. Monetary policy can be more successful when long-term inflation expectations are well anchored. Hence, many studies have focused on the question of how to assess the response of inflation expectations to macroeconomic shocks, and whether this is likely to be lower in inflation targeting regimes.
Wages are set on an infrequent basis, thus wage setters have to form a view on future inflation. If inflation is expected to be persistently higher in the future, employees may seek higher nominal wages in order to maintain their purchasing power. This in turn could lead to upward pressure on companies’ output prices, and hence higher consumer prices. Additionally, if companies expect general inflation to be higher in the future, they may be more inclined to raise prices, believing that they can do so without suffering a drop in demand for their output. A third path by which inflation expectations could potentially impact inflation is through their influence on consumption and investment decisions. For a given path of nominal market interest rates, if households and companies expect higher inflation, this implies lower expected real interest rates, making spending more attractive relative to saving.
In Japan, the third path may be most important. The higher inflation target is intended to lower real interest rates and boost consumption and investment. But there is a fourth reason, not listed by Blanchflower and Mac Coille, of particular relevance to Japan. Foreigners' expectations of future inflation affect the value of the currency. the Japanese Ministry of Finance recently revealed a 222.4 billion yen ($2.5 billion) current account deficit-- a measure of how much imports exceed exports. When people expect Japanese inflation to be higher in the future, the yen gets less valuable now, because it won't be able to buy as much stuff later; the yen weakens. But in this case, weakness is not necessarily bad. A weaker yen means that Japanese people will find it more expensive to import stuff, so they will import less. Likewise, people outside of Japan will find it cheaper to buy Japanese stuff, so Japan will export more. This helps shrink the current account deficit. And depending on the sizes of the income and substitution effects, Japanese consumers may buy more Japanese products.
Under inflation targeting in the UK, even though inflation expectations are reasonably well anchored, and median expectations are around the inflation target, there is substantial heterogeneity across agents in their inflation expectations. Malmendier and Nagel's paper provides a behavioral theory to explain part of this heterogeneity based on agents' heterogeneous past experiences of inflation. Heterogeneous inflation expectations have the potential to affect the workings of all the paths through which inflation expectations matter. We need to understand not only how Japan's inflation target will influence median inflation expectations, but also how it will affect expectations of price setters, wage setters, borrowers, savers, exporters, trade partners, etc. More than likely, these groups differ significantly in their demographics, have had different experiences, and thus form different expectations of inflation. (For reference, the graph below displays Japanese inflation, interest rates, real GDP per capita growth rate, and M2 growth rate. Japan has not seen 2% inflation since 1997.) Extensions of Malmendier's research to other countries and monetary regimes will be very useful in understanding the effects of monetary policy.