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How do data revisions affect the evaluation and conduct of monetary policy?

  • Sharon Kozicki

Many economic data series are revised as more comprehensive information becomes available and as methodologies improve. Even the latest available data are subject to uncertainty, and at some point historical data may be replaced by more accurately measured observations. Because monetary policy decisions are made with an eye to the state of the economy, data uncertainty complicates the evaluation and conduct of monetary policy. ; Kozicki focuses on revisions to data that policymakers often examine when assessing monetary policy options. While other studies have looked at the impact of data revisions on monetary policy, this article is the first to examine the policy implications of revisions in two widely used benchmarks of resource utilization—the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates of potential output and the natural rate of unemployment. The article is also the first to consider how data revisions affect policy decisions through changes in estimates of the equilibrium real rate of interest. ; Kozicki finds that revisions to data can lead to policy regret—instances when revised data may suggest alternative actions would have been preferable to those taken. Based on this finding and analysis in other studies, she recommends making policy less sensitive to economic indicators that are subject to large revisions.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in its journal Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (2004)
Issue (Month): Q I ()
Pages: 5-38

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2004:i:qi:p:5-38:n:v.89no.1
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  1. Jeffery D. Amato & Thomas Laubach, 1999. "The value of interest rate smoothing : how the private sector helps the Federal Reserve," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q III, pages 47-64.
  2. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1998. "Policy rules for inflation targeting," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
  3. David E. Runkle, 1998. "Revisionist history: how data revisions distort economic policy research," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 3-12.
  4. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2002. "Robust Monetary Policy Rules with Unknown Natural Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 63-146.
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  8. Athanasios Orphanides & Richard D. Porter & David Reifschneider & Robert Tetlow & Frederico Finan, 1999. "Errors in the measurement of the output gap and the design of monetary policy," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Sharon Kozicki, 1999. "How useful are Taylor rules for monetary policy?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 5-33.
  10. Thomas Laubach & John C. Williams, 2001. "Measuring the natural rate of interest," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-56, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  12. Croushore, Dean & Stark, Tom, 2001. "A real-time data set for macroeconomists," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 111-130, November.
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  14. Malcolm D. Knight & Chair, 2003. "Implications of a changing economic structure for the strategy of monetary policy," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 361-371.
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