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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. 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.
  2. Refet Gürkaynak & Brian Sack & Eric Swanson, 2004. "Do actions speak louder than words? the response of asset prices to monetary policy actions and statements," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-66, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Ehrmann, Michael & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2005. "How should central banks communicate?," Working Paper Series 0557, European Central Bank.
  4. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "Monetary policy evaluation with noisy information," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 605-631, April.
  5. Jeffery Amato & Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2003. "Communication and Monetary Policy," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000330, David K. Levine.
  6. Michael Woodford, 2005. "Central Bank Communication and Policy Effectiveness," NBER Working Papers 11898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2002. "Social Value of Public Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1521-1534, December.
  8. Glenn D. Rudebusch & John C. Williams, 2006. "Revealing the secrets of the temple: the value of publishing central bank interest rate projections," Working Paper Series 2006-31, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  9. Ehrmann, Michael & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2005. "Communication and decision-making by central bank committees: different strategies, same effectiveness?," Working Paper Series 0488, European Central Bank.
  10. Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher, 2007. "Transparency, Disclosure, and the Federal Reserve," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 3(1), pages 179-225, March.
  11. Frederic S. Mishkin, 2004. "Can Central Bank Transparency Go Too Far?," NBER Working Papers 10829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. Guthrie, Graeme & Wright, Julian, 2000. "Open mouth operations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 489-516, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Carin A.B. van der Cruijsen & Sylvester C.W. Eijffinger & Lex H. Hoogduin, 2008. "Optimal Central Bank Transparency," DNB Working Papers 178, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  2. 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.
  3. Blinder, Alan S. & Ehrmann, Michael & de Haan, Jakob & Fratzscher, Marcel & Jansen, David-Jan, 2008. "Central Bank communication and monetary policy: a survey of theory and evidence," Working Paper Series 0898, European Central Bank.
  4. 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.
  5. Benjamin Born & Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher, 2011. "Macroprudential policy and central bank communication," BIS Papers chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Macroprudential regulation and policy, volume 60, pages 107-110 Bank for International Settlements.
  6. 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.
  7. Angelo Ranaldo & Enzo Rossi, 2007. "The reaction of asset markets to Swiss National Bank communication," Working Papers 2007-11, Swiss National Bank.
  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. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

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