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Monetary Policy and Uncertainty about the Natural Unemployment Rate: Brainard-Style Conservatism versus Experimental Activism

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  • Wieland Volker

    ()
    (Goethe University of Frankfurt)

Abstract

Inflation-targeting central banks have only imperfect knowledge about the effect of policy decisions on inflation. An important source of uncertainty is the relationship between inflation and unemployment. This paper studies the optimal monetary policy in the presence of uncertainty about the natural unemployment rate, the short-run inflation-unemployment tradeoff and the degree of inflation persistence in a simple macroeconomic model that incorporates rational learning by the central bank as well as market participants. Two conflicting motives drive the optimal policy. In the static version of the model, uncertainty provides a motive for the policymaker to move more cautiously than she would if she knew the true parameters. In the dynamic version, uncertainty also motivates an element of experimentation in policy. The optimal policy, which balances the cautionary and activist motives, is computed using empirical estimates of Phillips curve uncertainty. Experimentation matters quantitatively for moderate to high degrees of uncertainty. Nevertheless, gradual inflation stabilization typically remains optimal, that is, the optimal policy response to inflation is less aggressive than a policy that disregards parameter uncertainty. Exceptions occur when uncertainty is very high and inflation close to target.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 6 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 1-34

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejmac:v:advances.6:y:2006:i:1:n:1

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Cited by:
  1. Lars E.O. Svensson & Noah M. Williams, 2007. "Bayesian and Adaptive Optimal Policy under Model Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 13414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Cunha-e-Sa, Maria A. & Santos, Vasco, 2008. "Experimentation with accumulation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 470-496, February.
  3. Volker Wieland, 2008. "Learning, Endogenous Indexation, and Disinflation in the New-Keynesian Model," Journal Economía Chilena (The Chilean Economy), Central Bank of Chile, vol. 11(3), pages 21-44, December.
  4. Küster, Keith & Wieland, Volker, 2005. "Insurance Policies for Monetary Policy in the Euro Area," CEPR Discussion Papers 4956, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Lars E.O. Svensson & Noah Williams, 2009. "Optimal Monetary Policy under Uncertainty in DSGE Models: A Markov Jump-Linear-Quadratic Approach," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series, in: Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel & Carl E. Walsh & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Series (ed.), Monetary Policy under Uncertainty and Learning, edition 1, volume 13, chapter 3, pages 077-114 Central Bank of Chile.
  6. Cosimano, Thomas F., 2008. "Optimal experimentation and the perturbation method in the neighborhood of the augmented linear regulator problem," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1857-1894, June.
  7. Fabio Milani, 2005. "Learning, Monetary Policy Rules, and Macroeconomic Stability," Macroeconomics 0508019, EconWPA.

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