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Targeting versus instrument rules for monetary policy

  • Bennett T. McCallum
  • Edward Nelson

Svensson (2003) argues strongly that specific targeting rules-first-order optimality conditions for a specific objective function and model-are normatively superior to instrument rules for the conduct of monetary policy. That argument is based largely on four main objections to the latter, plus a claim concerning the relative interest-instrument variability entailed by the two approaches. The present paper considers the four objections in turn and advances arguments that contradict all of them. Then, in the paper's analytical sections, it is demonstrated that the variability claim is incorrect, for a neo-canonical model and also for a variant with one-period-ahead plans used by Svensson, providing that the same decisionmaking errors are relevant under the two alternative approaches. Arguments relating to general targeting rules and actual central bank practice are also included.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2005)
Issue (Month): Sep ()
Pages: 597-612

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2005:i:sep:p:597-612:n:v.87no.5
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  1. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1998. "Policy rules for inflation targeting," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 98-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. Svensson, Lars E O & Woodford, Michael, 2004. "Implementing Optimal Policy Through Inflation-Forecast Targeting," CEPR Discussion Papers 4229, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Andrew Levin & Volker Wieland & John C. Williams, 1998. "Robustness of simple monetary policy rules under model uncertainty," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. McCallum, Bennett T & Nelson, Edward, 2001. "Timeless Perspective Vs Discretionary Monetary Policy in Forward-Looking Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 2752, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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