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Monetary policy and self-fulfilling expectations: the danger of forecasts


  • Charles T. Carlstrom
  • Timothy S. Fuerst


What rule should a central bank interested in inflation stability follow? Because monetary policy tends to work with lags, it is tempting to use inflation forecasts to generate policy advice. This article, however, suggests that the use of forecasts to drive policy is potentially destabilizing. The problem with forecast-based policy is that the economy becomes vulnerable to what economists term “sunspot†fluctuations. These welfare-reducing fluctuations can be avoided by using a policy that puts greater weight on past, realized inflation rates rather than forecasted, future rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles T. Carlstrom & Timothy S. Fuerst, 2001. "Monetary policy and self-fulfilling expectations: the danger of forecasts," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q I, pages 9-19.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcer:y:2001:i:qi:p:9-19

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barro, Robert J & Gordon, David B, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 589-610, August.
    2. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 2000. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(1), pages 147-180.
    3. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Jess Benhabib & Martin Uribe, 2001. "Monetary Policy and Multiple Equilibria," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 167-186, March.
    4. Christian Gilles & Pamela A. Labadie & Wilbur John Coleman II., 1996. "A model of the federal funds market," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 7(2), pages 337-357.
    5. Sargent, Thomas J & Wallace, Neil, 1975. ""Rational" Expectations, the Optimal Monetary Instrument, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 241-254, April.
    6. Woodford, Michael, 1990. "Learning to Believe in Sunspots," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(2), pages 277-307, March.
    7. Roger E. A. Farmer, 1999. "Macroeconomics of Self-fulfilling Prophecies, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262062038, January.
    8. William Kerr & Robert G. King, 1996. "Limits on interest rate rules in the IS model," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 47-75.
    9. Carlstrom, Charles T. & Fuerst, Timothy S., 1995. "Interest rate rules vs. money growth rules a welfare comparison in a cash-in-advance economy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 247-267, November.
    10. 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 473-491, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Choy, Keen Meng & Leong, Kenneth & Tay, Anthony S., 2006. "Non-fundamental expectations and economic fluctuations: Evidence from professional forecasts," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 446-460, June.
    2. Christian Bordes & Laurent Clerc, 2007. "Price Stability And The Ecb'S Monetary Policy Strategy," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 268-326, April.
    3. Ibrahim Chowdhury & Andreas Schabert, "undated". "Assessing Money Supply Rules," Working Papers 2003_9, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow, revised May 2003.
    4. Loisel, O., 2006. "Bubble-free interest-rate rules," Working papers 161, Banque de France.

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