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Optimal nonlinear policy: signal extraction with a non-normal prior

  • Swanson, Eric T.

The literature on optimal monetary policy typically makes three major assumptions: 1) policymakers’ preferences are quadratic, 2) the economy is linear, and 3) stochastic shocks and policymakers’ prior beliefs about unobserved variables are normally distributed. This paper relaxes the third assumption and explores its implications for optimal policy. The separation principle continues to hold in this framework, allowing for tractability and application to forward-looking models, but policymakers’ beliefs are no longer updated in a linear fashion, allowing for plausible nonlinearities in optimal policy. We consider in particular a class of models in which policymakers’ priors about the natural rate of unemployment are diffuse in a region around the mean. When this is the case, it is optimal for policy to respond cautiously to small surprises in the observed unemployment rate, but become increasingly aggressive at the margin. These features of optimal policy match statements by Federal Reserve officials and the behavior of the Fed in the 1990s

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control.

Volume (Year): 30 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
Pages: 185-203

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Handle: RePEc:eee:dyncon:v:30:y:2006:i:2:p:185-203
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  1. Lars E.O. Svensson & Michael Woodford, 2000. "Indicator variables for optimal policy," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. Swanson, Eric T., 2006. "Optimal nonlinear policy: signal extraction with a non-normal prior," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 185-203, February.
  3. Andrew J. Filardo, 1998. "New evidence on the output cost of fighting inflation," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q III.
  4. Pearlman, Joseph & Currie, David & Levine, Paul, 1986. "Rational expectations models with partial information," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 90-105, April.
  5. Volker Wieland, 1998. "Monetary policy and uncertainty about the natural unemployment rate," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-22, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Laurence H. Meyer & Eric T. Swanson & Volker W. Wieland, 2001. "NAIRU uncertainty and nonlinear policy rules," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-01, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Brian Sack & Volker Wieland, 1999. "Interest-rate smoothing and optimal monetary policy: a review of recent empirical evidence," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-39, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Orphanides, Athanasios & Wieland, Volker, 2000. "Inflation zone targeting," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1351-1387, June.
  9. Douglas O. Staiger & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1997. "How Precise Are Estimates of the Natural Rate of Unemployment?," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 195-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Swanson, Eric T., 2004. "Signal Extraction And Non-Certainty-Equivalence In Optimal Monetary Policy Rules," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 27-50, February.
  11. repec:cup:macdyn:v:8:y:2004:i:1:p:27-50 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Pearlman, Joseph G., 1992. "Reputational and nonreputational policies under partial information," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 339-357, April.
  13. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
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