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Optimal nonlinear policy: signal extraction with a non-normal prior

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  • Eric T. Swanson

Abstract

The literature on optimal monetary policy typically makes three major assumptions: (1) policymakers' preferences are quadratic, (2) the economy is linear, and (3) stochastic shocks and policymakers' prior beliefs about unobserved variables are normally distributed. This paper relaxes the third assumption and explores its implications for optimal policy. The separation principle continues to hold in this framework, allowing for tractability and application to forward-looking models, but policymakers' beliefs are no longer updated in a linear fashion, allowing for plausible nonlinearities in optimal policy. We consider in particular a class of models in which policymakers' priors about the natural rate of unemployment are diffuse in a region around the mean. When this is the case, it is optimal for policy to respond cautiously to small surprises in the observed unemployment rate, but become increasingly aggressive at the margin. These features of optimal policy match statements by Federal Reserve officials and the behavior of the Fed in the 1990s.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Paper Series with number 2005-24.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Publication status: Published in Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, v. 30, no. 2 (February 2006) pp. 185-203
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2005-24

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Keywords: Monetary policy ; Econometric models;

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References

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  1. Swanson, Eric T., 2004. "Signal Extraction And Non-Certainty-Equivalence In Optimal Monetary Policy Rules," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 27-50, February.
  2. Svensson, Lars E. O. & Woodford, Michael, 2003. "Indicator variables for optimal policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 691-720, April.
  3. Laurence H. Meyer & Eric T. Swanson & Volker W. Wieland, 2001. "NAIRU uncertainty and nonlinear policy rules," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-01, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Orphanides, Athanasios & Wieland, Volker, 2000. "Inflation zone targeting," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1351-1387, June.
  5. Volker Wieland, 1998. "Monetary policy and uncertainty about the natural unemployment rate," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-22, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Eric Swanson, 2005. "Optimal Nonlinear Policy: Signal Extraction with a Non-Normal Prior," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 147, Society for Computational Economics.
  7. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1996. "How Precise are Estimates of the Natural Rate of Unemployment?," NBER Working Papers 5477, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. repec:cup:macdyn:v:8:y:2004:i:1:p:27-50 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Pearlman, Joseph G., 1992. "Reputational and nonreputational policies under partial information," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 339-357, April.
  11. Andrew J. Filardo, 1998. "New evidence on the output cost of fighting inflation," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q III.
  12. Pearlman, Joseph & Currie, David & Levine, Paul, 1986. "Rational expectations models with partial information," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 90-105, April.
  13. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Eric T. Swanson, 2005. "Optimal nonlinear policy: signal extraction with a non-normal prior," Working Paper Series 2005-24, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. G. C. Lim & Paul D. McNelis, 2006. "Inflation Targeting, Learning and Q Volatility in Small Open Economies," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2006n22, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  3. Laurence H. Meyer & Eric T. Swanson & Volker W. Wieland, 2001. "NAIRU Uncertainty and Nonlinear Policy Rules," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 226-231, May.
  4. Neuenkirch, Matthias & Tillmann, Peter, 2014. "Inflation targeting, credibility, and non-linear Taylor rules," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 30-45.
  5. Mandler, Martin, 2010. "Macroeconomic dynamics and inflation regimes in the U.S. Results from threshold vector autoregressions," MPRA Paper 21887, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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