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Expectation traps and discretion

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  • V.V. Chari
  • Lawrence J. Christiano
  • Martin Eichenbaum

Abstract

We argue that discretionary monetary policy exposes the economy to welfare-decreasing instability. It does so by creating the potential for private expectations about the response of monetary policy to exogenous shocks to be self-fulfilling. Among the many equilibria that are possible, some have good welfare properties. But, others exhibit welfare decreasing volatility in output and employment. We refer to the latter type of equilibria as expectation traps. In effect, our paper presents a new argument for commitment in monetary policy because commitment eliminates these bad equilibria. We show that full commitment is not necessary to achieve the best outcome, and that more limited forms of commitment suffice.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues with number WP-96-5.

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Date of creation: 1996
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhma:wp-96-5

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Keywords: Rational expectations (Economic theory) ; Monetary policy;

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References

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  1. Farmer Roger E. A. & Guo Jang-Ting, 1994. "Real Business Cycles and the Animal Spirits Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 42-72, June.
  2. Alan S. Blinder, 1982. "The Anatomy of Double-Digit Inflation in the 1970s," NBER Chapters, in: Inflation: Causes and Effects, pages 261-282 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Laurence Ball, 1991. "The Genesis of Inflation and the Costs of Disinflation," NBER Working Papers 3621, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1990. "Increasing Returns, Industrialization and Indeterminacy of Equilibrium," Discussion Papers 878, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Abreu, Dilip, 1988. "On the Theory of Infinitely Repeated Games with Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 383-96, March.
  6. Taylor, John B, 1980. "Aggregate Dynamics and Staggered Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 1-23, February.
  7. V. V. Chari & Patrick E. Kehoe, 1990. "Sustainable Plans and Mutual Default," IMF Working Papers 90/22, International Monetary Fund.
  8. D. Backus & J. Driffil, 1998. "Inflation and Reputation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625, David K. Levine.
  9. Azariadis, Costas, 1981. "Self-fulfilling prophecies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 380-396, December.
  10. Cass, David & Shell, Karl, 1983. "Do Sunspots Matter?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 193-227, April.
  11. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1983. "Rules, Discretion and Reputation in a Model of Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 1079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Chari, V V & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1990. "Sustainable Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 783-802, August.
  13. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1992. "Liquidity effects, monetary policy and the business cycle," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 92-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  14. V.V. Chari, 1988. "Time consistency and optimal policy design," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 17-31.
  15. Cole, Harold L & Kehoe, Timothy J, 2000. "Self-Fulfilling Debt Crises," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 91-116, January.
  16. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1978. "On the Time Consistency of Optimal Policy in a Monetary Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1411-28, November.
  17. Laurence M. Ball, 1990. "Time-Consistent Policy and Persistent Changes in Inflation," NBER Working Papers 3529, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  19. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles, 1996. "The Effects of Monetary Policy Shocks: Evidence from the Flow of Funds," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 16-34, February.
  20. Stokey, Nancy L., 1991. "Credible public policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 627-656, October.
  21. Bewley, Truman, 1983. "A Difficulty with the Optimum Quantity of Money," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(5), pages 1485-504, September.
  22. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  23. Chari V. V. & Kehoe Patrick J., 1993. "Sustainable Plans and Debt," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 230-261, December.
  24. Bryant, John, 1983. "A Simple Rational Expectations Keynes-Type Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 525-28, August.
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