The Expected Interest Rate Path: Alignment of Expectations vs. Creative Opacity
We examine the effects of the release by a central bank of its expected future interest rate in a simple two-period model with heterogeneous information between the central bank and the private sector. The model is designed to rule out common-knowledge and time-inconsistency effects. Transparency—when the central bank publishes its interest rate path—fully aligns central bank and private-sector expectations about the future inflation rate. The private sector fully trusts the central bank to eliminate future inflation and sets the long-term interest rate accordingly, leaving only the unavoidable central bank forecast error as a source of inflation volatility. Under opacity—when the central bank does not publish its interest rate forecast—current-period inflation differs from its target not just because of the unavoidable central bank expectation error but also because central bank and privatesector expectations about future inflation and interest rates are no longer aligned. Opacity may be creative and raise welfare if the private sector’s interpretation of the current interest rate leads it to form a view of expected inflation and to set the long-term rate in a way that systematically offsets the effect of the central bank forecast error on inflation volatility. Conditions that favor the case for transparency are a high degree of precision of central bank information relative to private-sector information, a high precision of early information, and a high elasticity of current to expected inflation.
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