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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.

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File URL: http://www.clevelandfed.org/research/Review/2001/danger.pdf
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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in its journal Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (2001)
Issue (Month): Q I ()
Pages: 9-19

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcer:y:2001:i:qi:p:9-19
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  1. Benhabib, J. & Schmitt-Grohe, S. & Uribe, M., 1998. "Monetary Policy and Multiple Equilibria," Working Papers 98-02, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Woodford, Michael, 1986. "Learning to Believe in Sunspots," Working Papers 86-16, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  7. Coleman, Wilbur John, II & Gilles, Christian & Labadie, Pamela A, 1996. "A Model of the Federal Funds Market," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 337-57, February.
  8. Charles T. Carlstrom & Timothy S. Fuerst, 1995. "Interest rate rules vs. money growth rules: a welfare comparison in a cash-in-advance economy," Working Paper 9504, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  9. 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 241-54, April.
  10. Roger E. A. Farmer, 1999. "Macroeconomics of Self-fulfilling Prophecies, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262062038, June.
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