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How should central banks communicate?

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  • Ehrmann, Michael
  • Fratzscher, Marcel

Abstract

The paper shows that central bank communication is a key determinant of the market’s ability to anticipate monetary policy decisions and the future path of interest rates. Comparing communication policies by the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the ECB since 1999, we find that communicating the diversity of views among committee members about monetary policy lowers the market’s ability to anticipate policy decisions as well as the future path of interest rates. This effect is sizeable, accounting for instance for one third to half of the prediction errors of FOMC policy decisions. By contrast, individualistic communication regarding the economic outlook is found to be beneficial for the Federal Reserve, enabling market participants to better anticipate the future path of interest rates. Thus, it is the collegiality of views on monetary policy but the diversity of views on the economic outlook that enhance the effectiveness of central bank communication. JEL Classification: E43, E52, E58, G12

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0557.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20050557

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Keywords: Bank of England; committee; communication; economic outlook; effectiveness; European Central Bank; Federal Reserve; monetary policy;

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  1. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Michael Woodford, 2003. "The Zero Bound on Interest Rates and Optimal Monetary Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(1), pages 139-235.
  2. Blinder, Alan S & Morgan, John, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better than One? Monetary Policy by Committee," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(5), pages 789-811, October.
  3. Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher, 2005. "Equal Size, Equal Role? Interest Rate Interdependence Between the Euro Area and the United States," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 928-948, October.
  4. Ben S. Bernanke & Vincent R. Reinhart & Brian P. Sack, 2004. "Monetary policy alternatives at the zero bound: an empirical assessment," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-48, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  6. M. Ehrmann & M. Fratzscher, 2003. "Interdependence between the Euro area and the U.S.: what role for EMU?," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Sibert, Anne, 1999. "Monetary Policy Committees: Individual and Collective Reputations," CEPR Discussion Papers 2328, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Jeffery D. Amato & Hyun Song Shin & Stephen Morris, 2003. "Communication and monetary policy," BIS Working Papers 123, Bank for International Settlements.
  9. Michael Woodford, 2005. "Central Bank Communication and Policy Effectiveness," NBER Working Papers 11898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Gerlach, Stefan, 2004. "Interest Rate Setting by the ECB: Words and Deeds," CEPR Discussion Papers 4775, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  12. Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher, 2007. "Communication by Central Bank Committee Members: Different Strategies, Same Effectiveness?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(2-3), pages 509-541, 03.
  13. Ehrmann, Michael & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2005. "Transparency, disclosure and the federal reserve," Working Paper Series 0457, European Central Bank.
  14. Petra Gerlach-Kristen, 2004. "Is the MPC's Voting Record Informative about Future UK Monetary Policy?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(2), pages 299-313, 06.
  15. David H. Romer & Christina D. Romer, 2000. "Federal Reserve Information and the Behavior of Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 429-457, June.
  16. Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2002. "Social Value of Public Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1521-1534, December.
  17. David-Jan Jansen & Jakob de Haan, 2004. "Look Who's Talking: ECB communication during the first years of EMU," DNB Working Papers 007, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  18. Guthrie, Graeme & Wright, Julian, 2000. "Open mouth operations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 489-516, October.
  19. Refet S. Gürkaynak, 2005. "Using federal funds futures contracts for monetary policy analysis," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-29, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  20. Frederic S Mishkin, 2004. "Can Central Bank Transparency Go Too Far?," RBA Annual Conference Volume, in: Christopher Kent & Simon Guttmann (ed.), The Future of Inflation Targeting Reserve Bank of Australia.
  21. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
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