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Purdah: on the rationale for central bank silence around policy meetings

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  • Ehrmann, Michael
  • Fratzscher, Marcel

Abstract

Despite substantial differences in monetary policy and communication strategies, many central banks share the practice of purdah, a self-imposed guideline of abstaining from communication around policy meetings or other important events. This practice is remarkable, as it seems to contradict the virtue of transparency by requiring central banks to withhold information precisely when it is sought after intensely. However, imposing such a limit to communication has often been justified on grounds that such communication may create excessive market volatility and unnecessary speculation. This short paper assesses the purdah for the Federal Reserve. The empirical results confirm the conjecture that financial markets are substantially more sensitive to central bank communication around policy meetings. Short-term interest rates react three to four times more strongly to statements in the purdah before FOMC meetings than during other times, and market volatility increases (compared to a volatility reduction induced by statements otherwise). The findings thus offer relevant insights about the limits to central bank transparency. JEL Classification: E58, E52, E43

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0868.

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Date of creation: Feb 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20080868

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Keywords: communication; effectiveness; Federal Reserve; Interest Rates; monetary policy; purdah; transparency;

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References

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  1. Glenn D. Rudebusch & John C. Williams, 2006. "Revealing the Secrets of the Temple: The Value of Publishing Central Bank Interest Rate Projections," NBER Working Papers 12638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Ben S. Bernanke & Vincent R. Reinhart & Brian P. Sack, 2004. "Monetary Policy Alternatives at the Zero Bound: An Empirical Assessment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 35(2), pages 1-100.
  4. Jeffery D. Amato & Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2002. "Communication and Monetary Policy," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 495-503.
  5. Refet Gürkaynak & Brian Sack, 2005. "Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?The Response of Asset Prices to Monetary Policy Actions and Statements," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 323, Society for Computational Economics.
  6. Guthrie, Graeme & Wright, Julian, 2000. "Open mouth operations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 489-516, October.
  7. Ehrmann, Michael & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2005. "Transparency, disclosure and the federal reserve," Working Paper Series 0457, European Central Bank.
  8. Athanasios Orphanides, 1998. "Monetary policy evaluation with noisy information," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-50, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Michael Woodford, 2005. "Central bank communication and policy effectiveness," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Aug, pages 399-474.
  10. 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.
  11. Ehrmann, Michael & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2005. "How should central banks communicate?," Working Paper Series 0557, European Central Bank.
  12. Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2002. "Social Value of Public Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1521-1534, December.
  13. Ehrmann, Michael & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2005. "Communication and decision-making by central bank committees: different strategies, same effectiveness?," Working Paper Series 0488, European Central Bank.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher, 2013. "Dispersed communication by central bank committees and the predictability of monetary policy decisions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 223-244, October.
  2. Cruijsen, C.A.B. van der & Eijffinger, S.C.W. & Hoogduin, L.H., 2010. "Optimal Central Bank transparency," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-4163962, Tilburg University.
  3. Alan S. Blinder & Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher & Jakob De Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2008. "Central Bank Communication and Monetary Policy: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Born, Benjamin & Ehrmann, Michael & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2010. "Macroprudential policy and central bank communication," CEPR Discussion Papers 8094, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Jan-Egbert Sturm & Jakob de Haan, 2009. "Does central bank communication really lead to better forecasts of policy decisions? New evidence based on a Taylor rule model for the ECB," KOF Working papers 09-236, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  6. Esteban Colla De Robertis & Last: Colla De Robertis, 2010. "Monetary policy committees and the decision to publish voting records," Documentos de Investigación - Research Papers 1, Centro de Estudios Monetarios Latinoamericanos, CEMLA.
  7. Roman HORVATH & Pavel KARAS, 2013. "Central Bank Communication and Interest Rates: The Case of the Czech National Bank," Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a uver), Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, vol. 63(5), pages 454-464, November.
  8. Moessner, Richhild & Allen, William A., 2013. "Central bank swap line effectiveness during the euro area sovereign debt crisis," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 167-178.
  9. Angelo Ranaldo & Enzo Rossi, 2007. "The reaction of asset markets to Swiss National Bank communication," Working Papers 2007-11, Swiss National Bank.
  10. Kevin Krieger & Nathan Mauck & Denghui Chen, 2012. "VIX changes and derivative returns on FOMC meeting days," Financial Markets and Portfolio Management, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 315-331, September.
  11. Büchel, Konstantin, 2013. "Do words matter? The impact of communication on the PIIGS' CDS and bond yield spreads during Europe's sovereign debt crisis," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 412-431.

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