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Flexible Rules cum Constrained Discretion: A New Consensus in Monetary Policy

This paper demonstrates that recent influential contributions to monetary policy imply an emerging consensus whereby neither rigid rules nor complete discretion are found optimal. Instead, middle-ground monetary regimes based on rules (operative under 'normal' circumstances) to anchor inflation expectations over the long run, but designed with enough flexibility to mitigate the short-run effect of shocks (with communicated discretion in 'exceptional' circumstances temporarily overriding these rules), are gaining support in theoretical models and policy formulation and implementation. The opposition of 'rules versus discretion' has, thus, reappeared as the synthesis of 'rules cum discretion', in essence as inflation-forecast targeting. But such synthesis is not without major theoretical problems, as we argue in this contribution. Furthermore, the very recent real-world events have made it obvious that the inflation targeting strategy of monetary policy, which rests upon the new consensus paradigm in modern macroeconomics is at best a 'fair weather' model. In the turbulent economic climate of highly unstable inflation, deep financial crisis and world-wide, abrupt economic slowdown nowadays this approach needs serious rethinking to say the least, if not abandoning it altogether. Classification-JEL:

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Article provided by Economic Issues in its journal Economic Issues.

Volume (Year): 14 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (September)
Pages: 27-54

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Handle: RePEc:eis:articl:209arestis
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