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Monetary Policy under Imperfect Commitment: Reconciling Theory with Evidence

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  • A. Hakan Kara

    (Research and Monetary Policy Department Central Bank of Turkey)

Abstract

In the standard forward-looking models of the recent literature, theoretical optimal monetary policy rules imply much higher inertia of interest rates than estimated historical policy rules. Motivated by the observation that theoretical policy rules often assume perfect commitment on the part of the monetary authority, this study formulates the monetary policy behavior with a continuum from discretion to full commitment and, using this setup, seeks to match the theory with evidence. It is shown that optimal instrument rules under imperfect commitment exhibit less inertia on the policy instrument; the degree of inertia declines as the policy moves from full commitment to discretion. Therefore, under the assumption that the monetary authorities operate somewhere in between discretion and commitment, historically observed policy behavior can be reconciled with the optimal policy rules - even in a purely forward-looking framework. As a by-product, we propose a method to measure the stance of monetary policy from the perspective of discretion versus commitment. To test our proposal, we estimate a structural monetary policy rule for the Federal Reserve, which nests discretion and commitment as special cases. Empirical results suggest that recent practice of monetary policy has been closer to commitment than the policy pursued in the 1970s.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by International Journal of Central Banking in its journal International Journal of Central Banking.

Volume (Year): 3 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 149-178

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Handle: RePEc:ijc:ijcjou:y:2007:q:1:a:5

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  1. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," NBER Working Papers 6442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Smoothing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(4), pages 861-886.
  3. Michael Woodford, 1999. "Commentary : how should monetary policy be conducted in an era of price stability?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 277-316.
  4. Cecchetti, Stephen G & McConnell, Margaret M & Perez-Quiros, Gabriel, 2002. "Policymakers' Revealed Preferences and the Output-Inflation Variability Trade-Off: Implications for the European System of Central Banks," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 70(4), pages 596-618, Special I.
  5. Svensson, L.E.O., 1995. "Optimal Inflation Targets, 'Conservative' Central Banks, and Linear Inflation Contracts," Papers 595, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  6. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: I. General Theory," NBER Working Papers 9419, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ozlale, Umit, 2003. "Price stability vs. output stability: tales of federal reserve administrations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(9), pages 1595-1610, July.
  8. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  9. Andrea Tambalotti & Ernst Schaumburg, 2004. "An Investigation of the Gains from Commitment in Monetary Policy," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 282, Econometric Society.
  10. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1998. "An Optimization-Based Econometric Framework for the Evaluation of Monetary Policy: Expanded Version," NBER Technical Working Papers 0233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2001. "Is The Fed Too Timid? Monetary Policy In An Uncertain World," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 203-217, May.
  12. Clarida, Richard & Galí, Jordi & Gertler, Mark, 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 2139, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. A. Hakan Kara, 2003. "Optimal Monetary Policy, Commitment, and Imperfect Credibility," Working Papers 0301, Research and Monetary Policy Department, Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey.
  14. Alan S. Blinder, 1999. "Central Banking in Theory and Practice," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522608.
  15. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural-Rate Model," NBER Working Papers 0807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Sack, Brian & Wieland, Volker, 2000. "Interest-rate smoothing and optimal monetary policy: a review of recent empirical evidence," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(1-2), pages 205-228.
  17. Marc Paolo Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "How forward-looking is optimal monetary policy?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 1425-1483.
  18. Favero, Carlo A & Rovelli, Riccardo, 2003. " Macroeconomic Stability and the Preferences of the Fed: A Formal Analysis, 1961-98," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(4), pages 545-56, August.
  19. William Roberds, 1986. "Models of policy under stochastic replanning," Staff Report 104, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  20. Jean Boivin & Marc Giannoni, 2002. "Has monetary policy become less powerful?," Staff Reports 144, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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Cited by:
  1. Ernst Schaumburg & Andrea Tambalotti, 2003. "An investigation of the gains from commitment in monetary policy," Staff Reports 171, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Christoph Moser & Axel Dreher, 2007. "Do Markets Care about Central Bank Governor Changes? Evidence from Emerging Markets," CESifo Working Paper Series 2177, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Kenneth N. Kuttner & Adam S. Posen, 2007. "Do Markets Care Who Chairs the Central Bank?," Working Paper Series WP07-3, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  4. Efrem Castelnuovo, 2006. "Tracking U.S. Inflation Expectations with Domestic and Global Indicators," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0031, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  5. Gerberding, Christina & Seitz, Franz & Worms, Andreas, 2007. "Money-based interest rate rules: lessons from German data," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2007,06, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.

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