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Monetary Policy and Uncertainty about the Natural Unemployment Rate: Brainard-Style Conservatism versus Experimental Activism

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  • Wieland Volker

    () (Goethe University of Frankfurt)

Abstract

Inflation-targeting central banks have only imperfect knowledge about the effect of policy decisions on inflation. An important source of uncertainty is the relationship between inflation and unemployment. This paper studies the optimal monetary policy in the presence of uncertainty about the natural unemployment rate, the short-run inflation-unemployment tradeoff and the degree of inflation persistence in a simple macroeconomic model that incorporates rational learning by the central bank as well as market participants. Two conflicting motives drive the optimal policy. In the static version of the model, uncertainty provides a motive for the policymaker to move more cautiously than she would if she knew the true parameters. In the dynamic version, uncertainty also motivates an element of experimentation in policy. The optimal policy, which balances the cautionary and activist motives, is computed using empirical estimates of Phillips curve uncertainty. Experimentation matters quantitatively for moderate to high degrees of uncertainty. Nevertheless, gradual inflation stabilization typically remains optimal, that is, the optimal policy response to inflation is less aggressive than a policy that disregards parameter uncertainty. Exceptions occur when uncertainty is very high and inflation close to target.

Suggested Citation

  • Wieland Volker, 2006. "Monetary Policy and Uncertainty about the Natural Unemployment Rate: Brainard-Style Conservatism versus Experimental Activism," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-34, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejmac:v:advances.6:y:2006:i:1:n:1
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Cunha-e-Sa, Maria A. & Santos, Vasco, 2008. "Experimentation with accumulation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 470-496, February.
    2. Beck, Guenter W. & Wieland, Volker, 2008. "Central bank misperceptions and the role of money in interest-rate rules," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(Supplemen), pages 1-17, October.
    3. Keith Kuester & Volker Wieland, 2010. "Insurance Policies for Monetary Policy in the Euro Area," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(4), pages 872-912, June.
    4. Milani, Fabio, 2008. "Learning, monetary policy rules, and macroeconomic stability," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 3148-3165, October.
    5. Volker Wieland, 2009. "Learning, Endogenous Indexation, and Disinflation in the New-Keynesian Model," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel & Carl E. Walsh & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Series (ed.), Monetary Policy under Uncertainty and Learning, edition 1, volume 13, chapter 11, pages 413-450 Central Bank of Chile.
    6. Kobayashi Teruyoshi, 2010. "Policy Irreversibility and Interest Rate Smoothing," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-29, October.
    7. Lars E.O. Svensson & Noah Williams, 2009. "Optimal Monetary Policy under Uncertainty in DSGE Models: A Markov Jump-Linear-Quadratic Approach," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel & Carl E. Walsh & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Series (ed.), Monetary Policy under Uncertainty and Learning, edition 1, volume 13, chapter 3, pages 077-114 Central Bank of Chile.
    8. Svensson, Lars E. O. & Williams, Noah, 2006. "Bayesian and adaptive optimal policy under model uncertainty," CFS Working Paper Series 2007/11, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    9. Cosimano, Thomas F., 2008. "Optimal experimentation and the perturbation method in the neighborhood of the augmented linear regulator problem," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1857-1894, June.
    10. Jung, Alexander & Mongelli, Francesco, 2013. "Monetary policy decision-making when information search is costly," MPRA Paper 80517, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 25 May 2016.

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