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A Price Target for U.S. Monetary Policy? Lessons from the Experience with Money Growth Targets

  • Benjamin M. Friedman

    (Harvard University)

  • Kenneth N. Kuttner

    (Columbia University)

The cutting edge of recent efforts to reshape monetary policy in many countries has been to impose a price target on the central bank. This paper examines such a policy in light of the Federal Reserve System's experience with money targeting from the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. The empirical analysis documents the Federal Reserve's initial use and subsequent disregard of money growth targets, and shows that abandoning these targets was a sensible response to the changing mix of shocks affecting the U.S. economy -- specifically, an increase in the relative volatility of money demand shocks. This experience provides little ground for confidence that a price target would be optimal for U.S. monetary policy. Even if the structure of the relevant shocks at any particular time were to appear favorable, a policy based on a price target would likewise be undermined if the relative volatility of aggregate supply shocks increased.

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Article provided by Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution in its journal Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.

Volume (Year): 27 (1996)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 77-146

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Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:27:y:1996:i:1996-1:p:77-146
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  1. Walsh, Carl E, 1995. "Optimal Contracts for Central Bankers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 150-67, March.
  2. William Poole, 1970. "Optimal Choice of Monetary Policy Instruments in a Simple Stochastic Macro Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(2), pages 197-216.
  3. Sims, Christopher A & Stock, James H & Watson, Mark W, 1990. "Inference in Linear Time Series Models with Some Unit Roots," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 113-44, January.
  4. James Tobin, 1969. "Money and Income: Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc?," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 283, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Danny Quah, 1988. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbances," NBER Working Papers 2737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Ben Bernanke, 1990. "The Federal Funds Rate and the Channels of Monetary Transnission," NBER Working Papers 3487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. William Poole, 1970. "Optimal choice of monetary policy instruments in a simple stochastic macro model," Staff Studies 57, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Robert P. Flood & Peter Isard, 1989. "Monetary Policy Strategies," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 36(3), pages 612-632, September.
  9. Barry Bosworth, 1989. "Institutional Change and the Efficacy of Monetary Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 20(1), pages 77-124.
  10. West, Kenneth D, 1986. "Targeting Nominal Income: A Note," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(384), pages 1077-83, December.
  11. Joshua Aizenman & Jacob A. Frenkel, 1985. "Supply Shocks, Wage Indexation and Monetary Accommodation," NBER Working Papers 1609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Stock, James H. & Watson, Mark W., 1989. "Interpreting the evidence on money-income causality," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 161-181, January.
  13. Stephen M. Goldfeld & Alan S. Blinder, 1972. "Some Implications of Endogenous Stabilization Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 3(3), pages 585-644.
  14. Jordi GalĂ­, 1992. "How Well Does The IS-LM Model Fit Postwar U. S. Data?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 709-738.
  15. Bean, Charles R, 1983. "Targeting Nominal Income: An Appraisal," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 93(372), pages 806-19, December.
  16. Friedman, Benjamin M & Kuttner, Kenneth N, 1992. "Money, Income, Prices, and Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 472-92, June.
  17. Kenneth Rogoff, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-1189.
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