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The Difficulty of Discerning What's Too Tight: Taylor Rules and Japanese Monetary Policy

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  • Kenneth N. Kuttner

    ()
    (Oberlin College, Department of Economics)

  • Adam S. Posen

    ()
    (Institute for International Economics)

Abstract

Observers have relied increasingly on simple reaction functions, such as the Taylor rule, to assess the conduct of monetary policy. Applying this approach to deflationary or near-zero inflation environments is problematic, however, and this paper examines two shortcomings of particular relevance to the Japanese case of the last decade. One is the unusually high degree of uncertainty associated with potential output in an environment of prolonged stagnation and deflation. Consequently, reaction function-based assessments of Japanese monetary policy are so sensitive to the chosen gauge of potential output as to be unreliable. The second shortcoming is the neglect of policy expectations, which become critically important as nominal interest rates approach zero. Using long-term bond yields, we identify five episodes since 1996 characterized by abrupt declines in Japanese inflation expectations. Policies undertaken by the Bank of Japan during this period did little to stabilize expectations, and the August 2000 interest rate increase appears to have intensified deflationary concerns.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Peterson Institute for International Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number WP03-10.

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Date of creation: Dec 2003
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Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp03-10

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Keywords: Deflation; Monetary Policy; Policy Rules; Taylor Rule; Japan;

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References

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  1. Orphanides, Athanasios & Wieland, Volker, 2000. "Efficient Monetary Policy Design near Price Stability," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 327-365, December.
  2. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: II. Applications," NBER Working Papers 9420, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Kenneth N. Kuttner & Adam S. Posen, 2000. "Inflation, Monetary Transparency, and G3 Exchange Rate Volatility," Working Paper Series WP00-6, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  5. Robert J. Tetlow & Peter von zur Muehlen, 1999. "Simplicity versus optimality the choice of monetary policy rules when agents must learn," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-10, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  8. Adam S. Posen, 2002. "The Looming Japanese Crisis," Policy Briefs PB02-05, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  9. Orphanides, Athanasios & Porter, Richard D. & Reifschneider, David & Tetlow, Robert & Finan, Frederico, 2000. "Errors in the measurement of the output gap and the design of monetary policy," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(1-2), pages 117-141.
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  12. Adam S. Posen, 1998. "Restoring Japan's Economic Growth," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 35, July.
  13. Bennett T. McCallum, 2000. "Alternative Monetary Policy Rules: A Comparison with Historical Settings for the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan," NBER Working Papers 7725, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: I. General Theory," NBER Working Papers 9419, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Kenneth Kuttner, 1992. "Monetary policy with uncertain estimates of potential output," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Jan, pages 2-15.
  16. Sharon Kozicki, 1999. "How useful are Taylor rules for monetary policy?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 5-33.
  17. Okina, Kunio & Shiratsuka, Shigenori, 2004. "Policy commitment and expectation formation: Japan's experience under zero interest rates," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 75-100, March.
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  20. Kenneth N. Kuttner & Adam S. Posen, 2001. "The Great Recession: Lessons for Macroeconomic Policy from Japan," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(2), pages 93-186.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Kim, Tae-Hwan & Mizen, Paul, 2010. "Estimating monetary reaction functions at near zero interest rates," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 57-60, January.
  2. Daniel Leigh, 2005. "Estimating the Implicit Inflation Target," IMF Working Papers 05/77, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Ito, Hiro, 2003. "Was Japan’s Real Interest Rate Really Too High During the 1990s? The Role of the Zero Interest Rate Bound and Other Factors," Santa Cruz Center for International Economics, Working Paper Series qt48k5q6vd, Center for International Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  4. Paul Mizen & Tae-Hwan Kim & Alan Thanaset, 2007. "Evaluating the Taylor Principle Over the Distribution of the Interest Rate: Evidence from the US, UK and Japan," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2006 51, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
  5. Adam Posen, 2003. "It Takes More Than a Bubble to Become Japan," RBA Annual Conference Volume, in: Anthony Richards & Tim Robinson (ed.), Asset Prices and Monetary Policy Reserve Bank of Australia.
  6. Frederic S. Mishkin, 2005. "The Fed after Greenspan," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 317-332, Summer.
  7. Adam S. Posen, 2010. "The Central Banker's Case for Doing More," Policy Briefs PB10-24, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  8. Takatoshi Ito & Frederic S. Mishkin, 2006. "Two Decades of Japanese Monetary Policy and the Deflation Problem," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy with Very Low Inflation in the Pacific Rim, NBER-EASE, Volume 15, pages 131-202 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Yu-chin Chen & Pisut Kulthanavit, 2008. "Adaptive Learning and Monetary Policy: Lessons from Japan," Working Papers UWEC-2008-12-P, University of Washington, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2008.
  10. Kamada, Koichiro, 2005. "Real-time estimation of the output gap in Japan and its usefulness for inflation forecasting and policymaking," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-332, December.
  11. Joseph E. Gagnon, 2009. "The World Needs Further Monetary Ease, Not an Early Exit," Policy Briefs PB09-22, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  12. Tom Cargill & Federico Guerrero, 2006. "A ‘Second-Best’ Rationale to Deflationary Monetary Policy in Japan," Working Papers 06-009, University of Nevada, Reno, Department of Economics & University of Nevada, Reno , Department of Resource Economics.
  13. Tom Cargill & Federico Guerrero, 2006. "A Reassessment of the Problems with Interest Targeting: What Have We Learned from Japanese Monetary Policy?," Working Papers 06-010, University of Nevada, Reno, Department of Economics & University of Nevada, Reno , Department of Resource Economics.
  14. James Harrigan & Kenneth Kuttner, 2004. "Lost Decade in Translation: Did the US Learn from Japan's Post-Bubble Mistakes?," NBER Working Papers 10938, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Konstantin Kiesel & Maik Wolters, 2014. "Estimating monetary policy rules when the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates is approached," Kiel Working Papers 1898, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

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