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2009 International Conference "Financial System and Monetary Policy Implementation," Keynote Speech, The Role of "Determinacy" in Monetary Policy Analysis


  • Bennett T. McCallum

    (Carnegie Mellon University and National Bureau of Economic Research (E-mail:


It is well known that the concept of "determinacy"-a single stable solution-plays a major role in contemporary monetary policy analysis. But while determinacy is desirable, other things equal, it is not necessary for a solution to be plausible and is not sufficient for a solution to be desirable. There is a related but distinct criterion of " learnability" that seems more crucial. This paper argues that recognition of information feasibility requires that a candidate solution must, to be plausible, be quantitatively learnable on the basis of information generated by the economy itself. Since a prominent least- squares (LS) learning process is highly "biased" toward learnability, it is reasonable to regard it as a necessary condition for any specific solution to be relevant. This implies that determinacy is not necessary for policy analysis; there may be more than one stable solution, but only one that is LS learnable. Also, determinacy is not sufficient for satisfactory policy analysis; explosive solutions pertaining to nominal variables will not be eliminated by transversality conditions. For these and other reasons, the role of determinacy in monetary policy analysis should be reconsidered and substantially de-emphasized.

Suggested Citation

  • Bennett T. McCallum, 2009. "2009 International Conference "Financial System and Monetary Policy Implementation," Keynote Speech, The Role of "Determinacy" in Monetary Policy Analysis," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 27(1), pages 25-34, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:ime:imemes:v:27:y:2009:i:1:p:25-34

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James B. Bullard, 2006. "The learnability criterion and monetary policy," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 203-217.
    2. John H. Cochrane, 2011. "Determinacy and Identification with Taylor Rules," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(3), pages 565-615.
    3. Bullard, James & Mitra, Kaushik, 2002. "Learning about monetary policy rules," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1105-1129, September.
    4. Kurozumi, Takushi & Van Zandweghe, Willem, 2008. "Investment, interest rate policy, and equilibrium stability," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 1489-1516, May.
    5. Cho, Seonghoon & McCallum, Bennett T., 2009. "Another weakness of "determinacy" as a selection criterion for rational expectations models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 17-19, July.
    6. Evans, George W. & Honkapohja, Seppo, 1999. "Learning dynamics," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 449-542 Elsevier.
    7. Carlstrom, Charles T. & Fuerst, Timothy S., 2005. "Investment and interest rate policy: a discrete time analysis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 123(1), pages 4-20, July.
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    More about this item


    Determinacy; Learnability; Rational expectations; Multiple solutions; Monetary policy;

    JEL classification:

    • C62 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Existence and Stability Conditions of Equilibrium
    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy


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