- Center for Financial Studies (CFS) (10) (remove)
- The decline of activist stabilization policy : natural rate misperceptions, learning, and expectations (2004)
- We develop an estimated model of the U.S. economy in which agents form expectations by continually updating their beliefs regarding the behavior of the economy and monetary policy. We explore the effects of policymakers' misperceptions of the natural rate of unemployment during the late 1960s and 1970s on the formation of expectations and macroeconomic outcomes. We find that the combination of monetary policy directed at tight stabilization of unemployment near its perceived natural rate and large real-time errors in estimates of the natural rate uprooted heretofore quiescent in inflation expectations and destabilized the economy. Had monetary policy reacted less aggressively to perceived unemployment gaps, in inflation expectations would have remained anchored and the stag inflation of the 1970s would have been avoided. Indeed, we find that less activist policies would have been more effective at stabilizing both in inflation and unemployment. We argue that policymakers, learning from the experience of the 1970s, eschewed activist policies in favor of policies that concentrated on the achievement of price stability, contributing to the subsequent improvements in macroeconomic performance of the U.S. economy.
- Imperfect knowledge, inflation expectations, and monetary policy (2003)
- This paper investigates the role that imperfect knowledge about the structure of the economy plays in the formation of expectations, macroeconomic dynamics, and the efficient formulation of monetary policy. Economic agents rely on an adaptive learning technology to form expectations and to update continuously their beliefs regarding the dynamic structure of the economy based on incoming data. The process of perpetual learning introduces an additional layer of dynamic interaction between monetary policy and economic outcomes. We find that policies that would be efficient under rational expectations can perform poorly when knowledge is imperfect. In particular, policies that fail to maintain tight control over inflation are prone to episodes in which the public's expectations of inflation become uncoupled from the policy objective and stagflation results, in a pattern similar to that experienced in the United States during the 1970s. Our results highlight the value of effective communication of a central bank's inflation objective and of continued vigilance against inflation in anchoring inflation expectations and fostering macroeconomic stability. July 2003.
- Complexity and monetary policy : [Version August 10, 2012] (2012)
- The complexity resulting from intertwined uncertainties regarding model misspecification and mismeasurement of the state of the economy defines the monetary policy landscape. Using the euro area as laboratory this paper explores the design of robust policy guides aiming to maintain stability in the economy while recognizing this complexity. We document substantial output gap mismeasurement and make use of a new model data base to capture the evolution of model specification. A simple interest rate rule is employed to interpret ECB policy since 1999. An evaluation of alternative policy rules across 11 models of the euro area confirms the fragility of policy analysis optimized for any specific model and shows the merits of model averaging in policy design. Interestingly, a simple difference rule with the same coefficients on inflation and output growth as the one used to interpret ECB policy is quite robust as long as it responds to current outcomes of these variables.
- Economic projections and rules-of-thumb for monetary policy (2008)
- Monetary policy analysts often rely on rules-of-thumb, such as the Taylor rule, to describe historical monetary policy decisions and to compare current policy to historical norms. Analysis along these lines also permits evaluation of episodes where policy may have deviated from a simple rule and examination of the reasons behind such deviations. One interesting question is whether such rules-of-thumb should draw on policymakers "forecasts of key variables such as inflation and unemployment or on observed outcomes. Importantly, deviations of the policy from the prescriptions of a Taylor rule that relies on outcomes may be due to systematic responses to information captured in policymakers" own projections. We investigate this proposition in the context of FOMC policy decisions over the past 20 years using publicly available FOMC projections from the biannual monetary policy reports to the Congress (Humphrey-Hawkins reports). Our results indicate that FOMC decisions can indeed be predominantly explained in terms of the FOMC´s own projections rather than observed outcomes. Thus, a forecast-based rule-of-thumb better characterizes FOMC decision-making. We also confirm that many of the apparent deviations of the federal funds rate from an outcome-based Taylor-style rule may be considered systematic responses to information contained in FOMC projections.
- Activist stabilization policy and inflation : the Taylor rule in the 1970s (2002)
- A number of recent studies have suggested that activist stabilization policy rules responding to inflation and the output gap can attain simultaneously a low and stable rate of inflation as well as a high degree of economic stability. The foremost example of such a strategy is the policy rule proposed by Taylor (1993). In this paper, I demonstrate that the policy settings that would have been suggested by this rule during the 1970s, based on real-time data published by the U.S. Commerce Department, do not greatly differ from actual policy during this period. To the extent macroeconomic outcomes during this period are considered unfavorable, this raises questions regarding the usefulness of this strategy for monetary policy. To the extent the Taylor rule is believed to provide a reasonable guide to monetary policy, this finding raises questions regarding earlier critiques of monetary policy during the 1970s.
- What happened in Cyprus (2013)
- This policy letter sheds light on the economic and political backround in Cyprus and provides an analyses of the factors which lead to an intensification of the crisis there. It discusses the severe consequences of the errors made in the recent establishment of an adjustment program for Cyprus by the Europroup for European economic management as a whole.
- Are rules and boundaries sufficient to limit harmful central bank discretion? Lessons from Europe (2014)
- Marvin Goodfriend’s (2014) insightful, informative and provocative work explains concisely and convincingly why the Fed needs rules and boundaries. This paper reviews the broader institutional design problem regarding the effectiveness of the central bank in practice and confirms the need for rules and boundaries. The framework proposed for improving the Fed incorporates key elements that have already been adopted in the European Union. The case of ELA provision by the ECB and the Central Bank of Cyprus to Marfin-Laiki Bank during the crisis, however, suggests that the existence of rules and boundaries may not be enough to limit harmful discretion. During a crisis, novel interpretations of the legal authority of the central bank may be introduced to create a grey area that might be exploited to justify harmful discretionary decisions even in the presence of rules and boundaries. This raises the question how to ensure that rules and boundaries are respected in practice
- The reform of october 1979: how it happened and why (2005)
- This study offers a historical review of the monetary policy reform of October 6, 1979, and discusses the influences behind it and its significance. We lay out the record from the start of 1979 through the spring of 1980, relying almost exclusively upon contemporaneous sources, including the recently released transcripts of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings during 1979. We then present and discuss in detail the reasons for the FOMC's adoption of the reform and the communications challenge presented to the Committee during this period. Further, we examine whether the essential characteristics of the reform were consistent with monetarism, new, neo, or old-fashioned Keynesianism, nominal income targeting, and inflation targeting. The record suggests that the reform was adopted when the FOMC became convinced that its earlier gradualist strategy using finely tuned interest rate moves had proved inadequate for fighting inflation and reversing inflation expectations. The new plan had to break dramatically with established practice, allow for the possibility of substantial increases in short-term interest rates, yet be politically acceptable, and convince financial markets participants that it would be effective. The new operating procedures were also adopted for the pragmatic reason that they would likely succeed. JEL Klassifikation: E52, E58, E61, E65.
- Price stability and monetary policy effectiveness when nominal interest rates are bounded at zero (2003)
- This paper employs stochastic simulations of a small structural rational expectations model to investigate the consequences of the zero bound on nominal interest rates. We find that if the economy is subject to stochastic shocks similar in magnitude to those experienced in the U.S. over the 1980s and 1990s, the consequences of the zero bound are negligible for target inflation rates as low as 2 percent. However, the effects of the constraint are non-linear with respect to the inflation target and produce a quantitatively significant deterioration of the performance of the economy with targets between 0 and 1 percent. The variability of output increases significantly and that of inflation also rises somewhat. Also, we show that the asymmetry of the policy ineffectiveness induced by the zero bound generates a non-vertical long-run Phillips curve. Output falls increasingly short of potential with lower inflation targets.
- A quantitative exploration of the opportunistic approach to disinflation (2005)
- Under a conventional policy rule, a central bank adjusts its policy rate linearly according to the gap between inflation and its target, and the gap between output and its potential. Under "the opportunistic approach to disinflation" a central bank controls inflation aggressively when inflation is far from its target, but concentrates more on output stabilization when inflation is close to its target, allowing supply shocks and unforeseen fluctuations in aggregate demand to move inflation within a certain band. We use stochastic simulations of a small-scale rational expectations model to contrast the behavior of output and inflation under opportunistic and linear rules. Klassifikation: E31, E52, E58, E61. July, 2005.