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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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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. 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.
  2. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," NBER Working Papers 6442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Roger E. A. Farmer, 1999. "Macroeconomics of Self-fulfilling Prophecies, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262062038.
  4. Coleman, Wilbur John, II & Gilles, Christian & Labadie, Pamela A, 1996. "A Model of the Federal Funds Market," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 7(2), pages 337-57, February.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Woodford, Michael, 1990. "Learning to Believe in Sunspots," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(2), pages 277-307, March.
  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. 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.
  10. 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.
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