Rules versus discretion at the Federal Reserve System: On to the second century
Much of the experience of the U.S. Federal Reserve System, during the institution’s first hundred years, has revolved around controversies that fit squarely within the classical debate over rules versus discretion in economic policymaking. This paper looks back at the major episodes in this history since World War II, including the initial freeing of monetary policy from war-related interest-pegging, the Federal Reserve’s delayed but ultimately successful response to the inflation of the 1970s and early 1980s, the brief experiment with monetary aggregate targets, the extraordinary actions prompted by the 2007-9 financial crisis, and the current tentative exploration of inflation targeting. The paper concludes that the tension between the desire for rule-based policymaking and the practicalities that lead central bankers to preserve discretion in actual policy decisions does not admit of any easy, straightforward solution, and therefore that this tension is likely to persist into the Federal Reserve’s next century too.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Q. Farooq Akram & Øyvind Eitrheim, 2006.
"Flexible inflation targeting and financial stability: Is it enough to stabilise inflation and output?,"
2006/07, Norges Bank.
- Akram, Q. Farooq & Eitrheim, Øyvind, 2008. "Flexible inflation targeting and financial stability: Is it enough to stabilize inflation and output?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1242-1254, July.
- Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
- Vasco Cúrdia & Michael Woodford, 2015.
"Credit Frictions and Optimal Monetary Policy,"
NBER Working Papers
21820, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Vasco Cúrdia & Michael Woodford, 2008. "Credit frictions and optimal monetary policy," Working Paper Research 146, National Bank of Belgium.
- Vasco Cúrdia & Michael Woodford, 2009. "Credit frictions and optimal monetary policy," BIS Working Papers 278, Bank for International Settlements.
- Curdia, Vasco & Woodford, Michael, 2015. "Credit frictions and optimal monetary policy," Working Paper Series 2015-20, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, revised 10 Dec 2015.
- Cúrdia, Vasco & Woodford, Michael, 2015. "Credit Frictions and Optimal Monetary Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 11016, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Grossi, Michele & Tamborini, Roberto, 2012.
"Stock prices and monetary policy: Re-examining the issue in a New Keynesian model with endogenous investment,"
Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal,
Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-47.
- Grossi, Michele & Tamborini, Roberto, 2011. "Stock prices and monetary policy: Re-examining the issue in a New Keynesian model with endogenous investment," Economics Discussion Papers 2011-54, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
- Benjamin M. Friedman, 2004. "Why the Federal Reserve Should Not Adopt Inflation Targeting," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(1), pages 129-136, 03.
- 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.
- Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1983.
"Rules, Discretion and Reputation in a Model of Monetary Policy,"
NBER Working Papers
1079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
- Charles Goodhart, 1988. "The Evolution of Central Banks," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262570734, December.
- Tobin, James, 1983. "Monetary Policy: Rules, Targets, and Shocks," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 15(4), pages 506-18, November.
- 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.
- Bagehot, Walter, 1873. "Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number bagehot1873.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:34:y:2012:i:3:p:608-615. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.