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Central Banking by Committee

  • Anne Sibert

A small economics literature on monetary policy making by committee is complemented by the literature on groups in the other social sciences. I review some of this work, focusing on the effect of size on group performance and whether committees are more moderate than individuals. Studies document that an individual's effort decreases with group size unless their contributions can be identified and evaluated and that committee membership is polarizing, tending to make committees more extreme. A particularly harmful form of group polarization occurs when a striving for consensus causes members to stop paying sufficient attention to alternative actions. The literature suggests that monetary policy committees should have a clear objective, publish individual votes and not have many more than five members. They should be structured so that members do not act as part of a group, perhaps by having short terms in office and members from outside the central bank. External scrutiny of the decision-making process should be encouraged. Copyright 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal International Finance.

Volume (Year): 9 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (08)
Pages: 145-168

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Handle: RePEc:bla:intfin:v:9:y:2006:i:2:p:145-168
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  1. Hao Li & Sherwin Rosen & Wing Suen, 2000. "Conflicts and Common Interests in Committees," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0341, Econometric Society.
  2. Alan S. Blinder, 1999. "Central Banking in Theory and Practice," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522608, June.
  3. Sah, Raaj Kumar & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1988. "Committees, Hierarchies and Polyarchies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(391), pages 451-70, June.
  4. Drora Karotkin & Jacob Paroush, 2003. "Optimum committee size: Quality-versus-quantity dilemma," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 429-441, 06.
  5. Clare Lombardelli & James Proudman & James Talbot, 2002. "Committees versus individuals: an experimental analysis of monetary policy decision-making," Bank of England working papers 165, Bank of England.
  6. Kiel, Alexandra & Gerling, Kerstin & Schulte, Elisabeth & GrĂ¼ner, Hans Peter, 2003. "Information acquisition and decision making in committees: a survey," Working Paper Series 0256, European Central Bank.
  7. Whyte, Glen, 1993. "Escalating Commitment in Individual and Group Decision Making: A Prospect Theory Approach," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 430-455, April.
  8. Ley, E. & Steel, M.F.J., 1995. "A model of management teams," Discussion Paper 1995-86, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  9. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 1998. "Learning from the Behavior of Others: Conformity, Fads, and Informational Cascades," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 151-170, Summer.
  10. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The economics of career concerns: part 1 :comparing information structures," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9617, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  11. Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
  12. Alan S. Blinder & John Morgan, 2001. "Are Two Heads Better Than One?: An Experimental Analysis of Group vs. Individual Decisionmaking," Working Papers 130, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  13. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:1:p:305-339 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Cason, Timothy N & Mui, Vai-Lam, 1997. "A Laboratory Study of Group Polarisation in the Team Dictator Game," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(444), pages 1465-83, September.
  15. Gerlach-Kristen, Petra, 2005. "Too little, too late: Interest rate setting and the costs of consensus," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 88(3), pages 376-381, September.
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