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The optimal degree of discretion in monetary policy

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  • Susan Athey
  • Andrew Atkeson
  • Patrick J. Kehoe

Abstract

How much discretion is it optimal to give the monetary authority in setting its policy? We analyze this mechanism design question in an economy with an agreed-upon social welfare function that depends on the randomly fluctuating state of the economy. The monetary authority has private information about that state. In the model, well-designed rules trade off society's desire to give the monetary authority flexibility to react to its private information against society's need to guard against the standard time inconsistency problem arising from the temptation to stimulate the economy with unexpected inflation. We find that the optimal degree of monetary policy discretion is decreasing in the severity of the time inconsistency problem. As this problem becomes sufficiently severe, the optimal degree of discretion is none at all. We also find that, despite the apparent complexity of this dynamic mechanism design problem, society can implement the optimal policy simply by legislating an inflation cap that specifies the highest allowable inflation rate. (Replaced by Staff Report No: 326)

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Working Papers with number 626.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:626

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Keywords: Monetary policy;

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  1. Athey, Susan & Bagwell, Kyle, 2001. "Optimal Collusion with Private Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 428-65, Autumn.
  2. Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1998. "More on the time consistency of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 333-350, April.
  3. Christopher Phelan & Ennio Stacchetti, 2001. "Sequential Equilibria in a Ramsey Tax Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1491-1518, November.
  4. Ben S. Bernanke & Michael Woodford, 1997. "Inflation forecasts and monetary policy," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 653-686.
  5. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1993. "Designing institutions for monetary stability," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 53-84, December.
  6. Ben S. Bernanke & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1997. "Inflation Targeting: A New Framework for Monetary Policy?," NBER Working Papers 5893, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Carlos E. da Costa & Iván Werning, 2008. "On the Optimality of the Friedman Rule with Heterogeneous Agents and Nonlinear Income Taxation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(1), pages 82-112, 02.
  8. V. V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1996. "Expectation Traps and Discretion," NBER Working Papers 5541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
  10. Sleet, Christopher, 2001. "On Credible Monetary Policy and Private Government Information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 99(1-2), pages 338-376, July.
  11. Faust, J. & Svensson, L.E.O., 1998. "Transparency and Credibility: Monetary Policy with Unobservable Goals," Papers 636, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  12. Andrew Atkeson & Robert E Lucas, 2010. "On Efficient Distribution with Private Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2179, David K. Levine.
  13. Stefania Albanesi & V.V.Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano, 2002. "Expectation traps and monetary policy," Working Paper Series WP-02-04, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  14. Green, Edward J. & Porter, Robert H., 1982. "Noncooperative Collusion Under Imperfect Price Information," Working Papers 367, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  15. Susan Athey & Kyle Bagwell & Chris Sanchirico, 2002. "Collusion and price rigidity," Discussion Papers 0102-38, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  16. D. Backus & J. Driffil, 1998. "Inflation and Reputation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625, David K. Levine.
  17. A. Rampini, Adriano, 2005. "Default and aggregate income," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 225-253, June.
  18. Chari, V V & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1990. "Sustainable Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 783-802, August.
  19. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing Without Commitment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2053, David K. Levine.
  20. Chang, Roberto, 1998. "Credible Monetary Policy in an Infinite Horizon Model: Recursive Approaches," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 431-461, August.
  21. George-Marios Angeletos & Christian Hellwig & Alessandro Pavan, 2004. "Coordination and Policy Traps," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000294, UCLA Department of Economics.
  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. Matthew B. Canzoneri, 1983. "Monetary policy games and the role of private information," International Finance Discussion Papers 249, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  24. Ireland, Peter N., 1997. "Sustainable monetary policies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 87-108, November.
  25. Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1986. "A Theory of Ambiguity, Credibility, and Inflation under Discretion and Asymmetric Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1099-1128, September.
  26. 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.
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