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Expectation Traps and Discretion

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  • Chari, V. V.
  • Christiano, Lawrence J.
  • Eichenbaum, Martin

Abstract

We argue that discretionary monetary policy exposes the economy to welfare-decreasing instability. It does so by creating the potential for private expectations about the response of monetary policy to exogenous shocks to be self-fulfilling. Among the many equilibria that are possible, some have good welfare properties. But, others exhibit welfare decreasing volatility in output and employment. We refer to the latter type of equilibria as expectation traps. In effect, our paper presents a new argument for commitment in monetary policy because commitment eliminates these bad equilibria. We show that full commitment is not necessary to achieve the best outcome, and that more limited forms of commitment suffice.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 81 (1998)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 462-492

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:81:y:1998:i:2:p:462-492

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622869

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  1. V.V. Chari, 1988. "Time consistency and optimal policy design," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 17-31.
  2. V.V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 1989. "Sustainable plans and debt," Staff Report 125, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Taylor, John B, 1980. "Aggregate Dynamics and Staggered Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 1-23, February.
  4. Martin Eichenbaum & Lawrence J. Christiano, 1992. "Liquidity Effects, Monetary Policy, and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 4129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  6. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  7. Backus, David & Driffill, John, 1985. "Inflation and Reputation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 530-38, June.
  8. Ball, Laurence, 1991. "The Genesis of Inflation and the Costs of Disinflation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 439-52, August.
  9. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles, 1996. "The Effects of Monetary Policy Shocks: Evidence from the Flow of Funds," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 16-34, February.
  10. V. V. Chari & Patrick E. Kehoe, 1990. "Sustainable Plans and Mutual Default," IMF Working Papers 90/22, International Monetary Fund.
  11. V. V. Chari & Patrick J Kehoe, 1998. "Sustainable Plans," Levine's Working Paper Archive 600, David K. Levine.
  12. Cass, David & Shell, Karl, 1983. "Do Sunspots Matter?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 193-227, April.
  13. Farmer Roger E. A. & Guo Jang-Ting, 1994. "Real Business Cycles and the Animal Spirits Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 42-72, June.
  14. Stokey, Nancy L., 1991. "Credible public policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 627-656, October.
  15. Cole, Harold L & Kehoe, Timothy J, 2000. "Self-Fulfilling Debt Crises," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 91-116, January.
  16. Ball, Laurence, 1995. "Time-consistent policy and persistent changes in inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 329-350, November.
  17. Alan S. Blinder, 1982. "The Anatomy of Double-Digit Inflation in the 1970s," NBER Chapters, in: Inflation: Causes and Effects, pages 261-282 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Bryant, John, 1983. "A Simple Rational Expectations Keynes-Type Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 525-28, August.
  19. Azariadis, Costas, 1981. "Self-fulfilling prophecies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 380-396, December.
  20. Matsuyama, Kiminori, 1991. "Increasing Returns, Industrialization, and Indeterminacy of Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 617-50, May.
  21. Abreu, Dilip, 1988. "On the Theory of Infinitely Repeated Games with Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 383-96, March.
  22. Bewley, Truman, 1983. "A Difficulty with the Optimum Quantity of Money," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(5), pages 1485-504, September.
  23. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
  24. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1978. "On the Time Consistency of Optimal Policy in a Monetary Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1411-28, November.
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