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Reputation And Optimal Contracts For Central Bankers


  • Huang, Kevin X. D.
  • Tian, Guoqiang


We implement optimal economic outcomes at the lowest social cost by combining reputation and contracting mechanisms to overcome the time-inconsistency problem of monetary policy associated with an inflation bias. We characterize the conditions under which the reputation force alone induces a central bank to behave in a socially optimal way. When these conditions fail, an incentive contract is invoked, whose cost is significantly reduced by the presence of the reputation force. The contract poses a penalty threat that is a concave function of wage growth, which in equilibrium is tied to expected rather than realized inflation, with a global maximum that provides the least upper bound on all threatened penalties. This bound can be used as a uniform penalty threat to achieve optimal economic outcomes and still, for moderate to large shocks, its magnitude can be much smaller than the size of the transfers required by the standard contracts that are linear functions of realized inflation rates. Further, under both the concave and the uniform penalty threats, the central bank will behave in the socially optimal way and no transfer is materialized in equilibrium. Thus our hybrid mechanism solves the time-inconsistency problem while leaving the central bank with complete discretion to respond to new circumstances, without any reputation cost or penalty threatened by the contract actually invoked along the equilibrium path.

Suggested Citation

  • Huang, Kevin X. D. & Tian, Guoqiang, 2011. "Reputation And Optimal Contracts For Central Bankers," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(04), pages 441-464, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:macdyn:v:15:y:2011:i:04:p:441-464_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Schmidt, Klaus, 2017. "The 2016 Nobel Memorial Prize in Contract Theory," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 19, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.

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