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Forming Rational Expectations and When it is Right to be 'Wrong'

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  • Demertzis, Maria
  • Hughes Hallett, Andrew

Abstract

In this paper we examine the effects of private agents being less than fully rational. We examine this in the context of monetary policy, where the Central Bank may have uncertain preferences either by choice or by necessity. The new feature is that we allow the public to react in two different ways to this uncertainty. They either form rational expectations and internalize the uncertainty about the Central Bank’s preferences in full; or alternatively, and if this process of internalization is costly, it forms a ‘best’ guess regarding those preferences. This implies a certainty equivalence strategy applied to the preference parameters. As those parameters enter the decisions non-linearly, a systematic error emerges. We examine the magnitude of the resulting error in inflation and output, following the assumption of certainty equivalence. Under all reasonable levels of uncertainty this error turns out to be small but involves trading a deflation bias against the cost of gathering the information needed for the full rational expectations solution.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5042.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5042

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Keywords: central bank preference uncertainty; certainty equivalence; rational expectations;

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References

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  1. Faust, Jon & Svensson, Lars E O, 2001. "Transparency and Credibility: Monetary Policy with Unobservable Goals," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(2), pages 369-97, May.
  2. Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1986. "A Theory of Ambiguity, Credibility, and Inflation under Discretion and Asymmetric Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1099-1128, September.
  3. Jon Faust & Lars E.O. Svensson, 1999. "The Equilibrium Degree of Transparency and Control in Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 7152, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Maria Demertzis & Andrew Hughes Hallet, 2003. "Central Bank Transparency in Theory and Practice," DNB Staff Reports (discontinued) 105, Netherlands Central Bank.
  8. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  9. 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.
  10. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  11. Maria Demertzis & Marco Hoeberichts, 2006. "The Costs of Increasing Transparency," DNB Working Papers 080, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  12. Sibert, Anne, 2002. "Monetary policy with uncertain central bank preferences," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 1093-1109, June.
  13. Dieter Gerdesmeier & Barbara Roffia, 2004. "Empirical Estimates of Reaction Functions for the Euro Area," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 140(I), pages 37-66, March.
  14. Muscatelli, Anton, 1998. "Optimal Inflation Contracts and Inflation Targets with Uncertain Central Bank Preferences: Accountability through Independence?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(447), pages 529-42, March.
  15. Walsh, Carl E, 1999. "Announcements, Inflation Targeting and Central Bank Incentives," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 66(262), pages 255-69, May.
  16. Hughes Hallett, A. J., 1979. "Computing revealed preferences and limits to the validity of quadratic objective functions for policy optimization," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 27-32.
  17. Hughes Hallett, A. J., 1984. "On alternative methods of generating risk sensitive decision rules," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 16(1-2), pages 37-44.
  18. Petra M. Geraats, 2002. "Central Bank Transparency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 532-565, November.
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