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Why does the Monetary Policy Committee smooth interest rates?

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  • David Cobham

Abstract

Explanations of why the monetary authorities in different countries seem to smooth interest rates have focused on the official dislike of financial market volatility, aspects of the decision-making process, responses to uncertainty, inertial behaviour in a forward-looking environment, and serial correlation of shocks to the policymakers' expectations. This paper first shows that policy has been smoothest and comparable to that in other countries in the period of inflation targeting with Bank of England control of interest rates since 1997. It then uses the remarkably detailed evidence available from the minutes of the Monetary Policy Committee to evaluate the relevance of the various explanations of smoothing for the UK in this period. The paper concludes that the explanation of interest rate smoothing should be sought primarily in the serial correlation of shocks, together with some minor and short-term influences from uncertainty, while the other explanations turn out to be not relevant. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • David Cobham, 2003. "Why does the Monetary Policy Committee smooth interest rates?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(3), pages 467-493, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:55:y:2003:i:3:p:467-493
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Arnab Bhattacharjee & Sean Holly, 2004. "Inflation Targeting, committee Decision Making and Uncertainty: The case of the Bank of England's MPC," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2004 63, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
    2. Etienne Farvaque & Norimichi Matsueda & Pierre-Guillaume Méon, 2007. "How committees reduce the volatility of policy rates," DULBEA Working Papers 07-11.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Arnab Bhattacharjee & Sean Holly, 2010. "Rational Partisan Theory, Uncertainty, And Spatial Voting: Evidence For The Bank Of England'S Mpc," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(2), pages 151-179, July.
    4. Arnab Bhattacharjee & Sean Holly, 2005. "Inflation Targeting, Committee Decision Making and Uncertainty: The Case of the Bank of England’s MPC," CDMA Working Paper Series 200503, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
    5. Paul Downward & Andrew Mearman, 2005. "Methodological Triangulation at the Bank of England:An Investigation," Working Papers 0505, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    6. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:5:y:2004:i:17:p:1-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Christopher Adam & David Cobham, 2009. "Using Real-Time Output Gaps To Examine Past And Future Policy Choices," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 210(1), pages 98-110, October.
    8. Paul Downward & Andrew Mearman, 2008. "Decision-making at the Bank of England: a critical appraisal," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 385-409, July.
    9. James Yetman, 2004. "Speed Limit Policies and Interest Rate Smoothing," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 5(17), pages 1-6.
    10. Peter Spahn, 2010. "Asset Prices, Inflation and Monetary Control - Re-inventing Money as a Policy Tool," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 323/2010, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
    11. C.J.M. Kool & S. Rosenkranz & M. Middeldorp, 2007. "Listening Without Understanding : Central Bank Transparency, Financial Markets and the Crowding Out of Private Information," Working Papers 07-19, Utrecht School of Economics.
    12. Farvaque, Etienne & Matsueda, Norimichi & Méon, Pierre-Guillaume, 2009. "How monetary policy committees impact the volatility of policy rates," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 534-546, December.
    13. Arnab Bhattacharjee & Sean Holly, 2006. "Taking Personalities out of Monetary Policy Decision Making? Interactions, Heterogeneity and Committee Decisions in the Bank of England’s MPC," CDMA Working Paper Series 200612, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
    14. David Cobham & Yue Kang, 2013. "Time Horizons and Smoothing in the Bank of England's Reaction Function: The Contrast Between the Standard GMM and Ex Ante Forecast Approaches," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 75(5), pages 662-679, October.
    15. Bruno Ducoudre, 2008. "Structure par terme des taux d’intérêt et anticipations de la politique économique," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/5221, Sciences Po.

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