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Monetary policy in a data-rich environment

  • Bernanke, Ben S.
  • Boivin, Jean

Most empirical analyses of monetary policy have been confined to frameworks in which the Federal Reserve is implicitly assumed to exploit only a limited amount of information, despite the fact that the Fed actively monitors literally thousands of economic time series. This article explores the feasibility of incorporating richer information sets into the analysis, both positive and normative, of Fed policymaking. We employ a factor-model approach, developed by Stock and Watson (1999a,b), that permits the systematic information in large data sets to be summarized by relatively few estimated factors. With this framework, we reconfirm Stock and Watson's result that the use of large data sets can improve forecast accuracy, and we show that this result does not seem to depend on the use of finally revised (as opposed to 'real-time') data. We estimate policy reaction functions for the Fed that take into account its data-rich environment and provide a test of the hypothesis that Fed actions are explained solely by its forecasts of inflation and real activity. Finally, we explore the possibility of developing an 'expert system' that could aggregate diverse information and provide benchmark policy settings.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Monetary Economics.

Volume (Year): 50 (2003)
Issue (Month): 3 (April)
Pages: 525-546

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Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:50:y:2003:i:3:p:525-546
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505566

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  1. Athanasios Orphanides, 1998. "Monetary policy rules based on real-time data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-03, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles L., 1999. "Monetary policy shocks: What have we learned and to what end?," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 65-148 Elsevier.
  3. Forni, Mario & Lippi, Marco, 2001. "The Generalized Dynamic Factor Model: Representation Theory," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(06), pages 1113-1141, December.
  4. David H. Romer & Christina D. Romer, 2000. "Federal Reserve Information and the Behavior of Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 429-457, June.
  5. Christopher A. Sims, 1992. "Interpreting the Macroeconomic Time Series Facts: The Effects of Monetary Policy," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1011, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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  7. Myles Callan & Eric Ghysels & Norman R. Swanson, 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules with Model and Data Uncertainty," CIRANO Working Papers 98s-40, CIRANO.
  8. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," NBER Working Papers 7147, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Stock, J.H. & Watson, M.W., 1989. "New Indexes Of Coincident And Leading Economic Indicators," Papers 178d, Harvard - J.F. Kennedy School of Government.
  10. Forni, Mario & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 1995. "Dynamic Common Factors in Large Cross-Sections," CEPR Discussion Papers 1285, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1, May.
  12. Clarida, R. & Gali, J. & Gertler, M., 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and some Theory," Working Papers 98-01, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  13. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1999. "Forecasting Inflation," NBER Working Papers 7023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Eric M. Leeper & Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 1996. "What Does Monetary Policy Do?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 1-78.
  15. Dean Croushore & Tom Stark, 2003. "A Real-Time Data Set for Macroeconomists: Does the Data Vintage Matter?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 605-617, August.
  16. Danny Quah & Thomas J. Sargent, 1992. "A dynamic index model for large cross sections," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 77, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  17. Stock, James H & Watson, Mark W, 2002. "Macroeconomic Forecasting Using Diffusion Indexes," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(2), pages 147-62, April.
  18. Nicoletta Batini & Andrew Haldane, 1999. "Forward-Looking Rules for Monetary Policy," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 157-202 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Thomas Knox & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2000. "Empirical Bayes Forecasts of One Time Series Using Many Predictors," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1421, Econometric Society.
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  22. Thomas J. Sargent & Christopher A. Sims, 1977. "Business cycle modeling without pretending to have too much a priori economic theory," Working Papers 55, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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