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The FOMC: preferences, voting, and consensus

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  • Ellen E. Meade

Abstract

In this paper, the author develops and uses an original dataset collected from the internal discussion of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy committee (the Federal Open Market Committee [FOMC] transcripts) to examine questions about the Committee's behavior. The data show that Chairman Alan Greenspan's proposals, after Committee discussion, were nearly always adopted unmodified in the formal vote. Despite the external appearance of consensus with little disagreement over decisions and an official dissent rate of 7.5 percent, the data reveal that the rate of disagreement in internal Committee discussions was quite high-on the order of 30 percent for discussions of the short-term interest rate. And, under the assumption that FOMC voters assigned a higher priority to their preferences for the short-term interest rate than for the bias in the policy directive, it can be shown that this bias was important for achieving consensus, which supports and extends the results of Thornton and Wheelock (2000). Thus, the novel dataset described in this paper helps to shed some light on the internal workings of the FOMC in the Greenspan years.

Suggested Citation

  • Ellen E. Meade, 2005. "The FOMC: preferences, voting, and consensus," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 93-101.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2005:i:mar:p:93-101:n:v.87no.2,pt.1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ben S. Bernanke & Ilian Mihov, 1998. "Measuring Monetary Policy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 869-902.
    2. Daniel L. Thornton, 2005. "When did the FOMC begin targeting the federal funds rate? what the verbatim transcripts tell us," Working Papers 2004-015, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    3. James D. Hamilton & Oscar Jorda, 2002. "A Model of the Federal Funds Rate Target," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 1135-1167, October.
    4. Kalyvitis, Sarantis & Michaelides, Alexander, 2001. "New evidence on the effects of US monetary policy on exchange rates," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 255-263, May.
    5. Meade, Ellen E & Sheets, D Nathan, 2005. "Regional Influences on FOMC Voting Patterns," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(4), pages 661-677, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hayo, Bernd & Neuenkirch, Matthias, 2013. "Do Federal Reserve presidents communicate with a regional bias?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 62-72.
    2. Jung, Alexander, 2016. "Have minutes helped to predict fed funds rate changes?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 18-32.
    3. Riboni, Alessandro & Ruge-Murcia, Francisco, 2014. "Dissent in monetary policy decisions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 137-154.
    4. Jung, Alexander & Latsos, Sophia, 2015. "Do federal reserve bank presidents have a regional bias?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PA), pages 173-183.
    5. Ellen Meade, 2006. "Dissent and Disagreement on the Fed's FOMC: Understanding Regional Affiliations and limits to Transparency," DNB Working Papers 094, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    6. El-Shagi, Makram & Jung, Alexander, 2015. "Does the Greenspan era provide evidence on leadership in the FOMC?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 173-190.
    7. Daniel Seidmann, 2011. "A theory of voting patterns and performance in private and public committees," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 36(1), pages 49-74, January.
    8. Fendel, Ralf & Rülke, Jan-Christoph, 2012. "Are heterogeneous FOMC forecasts consistent with the Fed’s monetary policy?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 116(1), pages 5-7.
    9. Ellen E. Meade & Daniel L. Thornton, 2012. "The Phillips curve and US monetary policy: what the FOMC transcripts tell us," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 197-216, April.
    10. Gerlach-Kristen, Petra, 2008. "Taking two steps at a time: On the optimal pattern of policy interest rates," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 550-570, February.
    11. Christopher Crowe & Ellen E. Meade, 2007. "The Evolution of Central Bank Governance around the World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 69-90, Fall.
    12. Claussen, Carl Andreas & Matsen, Egil & Røisland, Øistein & Torvik, Ragnar, 2012. "Overconfidence, monetary policy committees and chairman dominance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 699-711.
    13. Etienne Farvaque & Hakim Hammadou & Piotr Stanek, 2011. "Selecting Your Inflation Targeters: Background and Performance of Monetary Policy Committee Members," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(2), pages 223-238, May.
    14. Alexander Jung & Gergely Kiss, 2012. "Voting by monetary policy committees: evidence from the CEE inflation-targeting countries," MNB Working Papers 2012/2, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary).
    15. Tillmann, Peter, 2011. "Strategic forecasting on the FOMC," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 547-553, September.
    16. Schultefrankenfeld, Guido, 2017. "Appropriate monetary policy and forecast disagreement at the FOMC," Discussion Papers 39/2017, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    17. Jung, Alexander & Kiss, Gergely, 2012. "Preference heterogeneity in the CEE inflation-targeting countries," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 445-460.
    18. Sheng, Xuguang (Simon), 2015. "Evaluating the economic forecasts of FOMC members," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 165-175.

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