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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. Svensson, Lars E O, 1998. "Inflation Targeting as a Monetary Policy Rule," CEPR Discussion Papers 1998, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. McCallum, B.T. & Nelson, E., 1998. "Nominal Income Targeting in an Open-Economy Optimizing Model," Papers 644, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
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  4. John C. Williams & Andrew T. Levin, 2003. "Robust Monetary Policy with Competing Reference Models," Computing in Economics and Finance 2003 291, Society for Computational Economics.
  5. Bennett T. McCallum & Edward Nelson, 1999. "Performance of Operational Policy Rules in an Estimated Semiclassical Structural Model," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 15-56 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Henderson, Dale W. & McKibbin, Warwick J., 1993. "A comparison of some basic monetary policy regimes for open economies: implications of different degrees of instrument adjustment and wage persistence," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 221-317, December.
  8. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: II. Applications," Levine's Bibliography 506439000000000394, UCLA Department of Economics.
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  14. Lars E O Svensson, 1996. "Inflation Forecast Targeting: Implementing and Monitoring Inflation Targets," Bank of England working papers 56, Bank of England.
  15. Henrik Jensen, . "Targeting Nominal Income Growth or Inflation?," EPRU Working Paper Series 99-23, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  16. Svensson, Lars E O & Woodford, Michael, 2004. "Implementing Optimal Policy Through Inflation-Forecast Targeting," CEPR Discussion Papers 4229, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. 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.
  18. Kaushik Mitra & James Bullard, . "Learning About Monetary Policy Rules," Discussion Papers 00/41, Department of Economics, University of York.
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  20. Denise Côté & Jean-Paul Lam & Ying Liu & Pierre St-Amant, 2002. "The Role of Simple Rules in the Conduct of Canadian Monetary Policy," Bank of Canada Review, Bank of Canada, vol. 2002(Spring), pages 27-35.
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  26. Mccallum, Bennet T., 1988. "Robustness properties of a rule for monetary policy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 173-203, January.
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  28. Professor Lars E O Svensson, 2001. "Independent review of the operation of monetary policy in New Zealand," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, vol. 64, March.
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  33. Charles Bean & Matthius Paustian & Adrian Penalver & Tim Taylor, 2010. "Monetary policy after the fall," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 267-328.
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