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Economic projections and rules of thumb for monetary policy

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  • Athanasios Orphanides
  • Volker Wieland

Abstract

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 with 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 the result of systematic responses to information captured in policymakers' own projections. This paper investigates this proposition in the context of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy decisions over the past 20 years, using publicly available FOMC projections from the semiannual monetary policy reports to Congress (Humphrey-Hawkins reports). The 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 decisionmaking. This paper also confirms 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.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2008)
Issue (Month): Jul ()
Pages: 307-324

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2008:i:jul:p:307-324:n:v.90no.4

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Keywords: Monetary policy;

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References

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  1. Aksoy, Yunus & Orphanides, Athanasios & Small, David & Wieland, Volker, 2005. "A quantitative exploration of the opportunistic approach to disinflation," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/19, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  2. Orphanides, Athanasios & Wieland, Volker, 2000. "Efficient Monetary Policy Design near Price Stability," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 327-365, December.
  3. Mccallum, Bennet T., 1988. "Robustness properties of a rule for monetary policy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 173-203, January.
  4. Athanasios Orphanides & David W. Wilcox, 1996. "The opportunistic approach to disinflation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-24, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Dale W. Henderson & Warwick J. McKibbin, 1993. "A comparison of some basic monetary policy regimes for open economies: implications of different degrees of instrument adjustment and wage persistence," International Finance Discussion Papers 458, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  7. William Poole, 2007. "Understanding the Fed," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 3-14.
  8. William Poole, 2008. "Rules-of-thumb for guiding monetary policy," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 447-498.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Seip, Knut L. & McNown, Robert, 2013. "Monetary policy and stability during six periods in US economic history: 1959–2008: a novel, nonlinear monetary policy rule," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 307-325.
  2. Schultefrankenfeld, Guido, 2010. "Forecast uncertainty and the Bank of England interest rate decisions," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2010,27, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  3. Takushi Kurozumi & Willem Van Zandweghe, 2010. "Learning about monetary policy rules when labor market search and matching frictions matter," Research Working Paper RWP 10-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  4. Vasco Gabriel & Paul Levine & Christopher Spencer, 2008. "How forward-looking is the Fed? Direct estimates from a `Calvo-type' rule," School of Economics Discussion Papers 0508, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
  5. Wolters, Maik Hendrik, 2010. "Estimating Monetary Policy Reaction Functions Using Quantile Regressions," MPRA Paper 23857, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Sinclair, Tara M. & Gamber, Edward N. & Stekler, Herman & Reid, Elizabeth, 2012. "Jointly evaluating the Federal Reserve’s forecasts of GDP growth and inflation," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 309-314.
  7. Tillmann, Peter, 2011. "Strategic forecasting on the FOMC," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 547-553, September.
  8. Takushi Kurozumi & Willem Van Zandweghe, 2010. "Labor market search, the Taylor principle, and indeterminacy," Research Working Paper RWP 11-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  9. Tillmann, Peter, 2010. "The Fed's perceived Phillips curve: Evidence from individual FOMC forecasts," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 1008-1013, December.
  10. Ellis, Michael A. & Liu, Dandan, 2013. "Do FOMC forecasts add value to staff forecasts?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 332-340.
  11. Minford, Patrick, 2008. "Commentary on Economic Projections and Rules of Thumb for Monetary Policy (by Athanasios Orphanides and Volker Wieland)," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2008/16, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.
  12. Fendel, Ralf & Rülke, Jan-Christoph, 2012. "Are heterogeneous FOMC forecasts consistent with the Fed’s monetary policy?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 116(1), pages 5-7.

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