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First Impressions Matter: Signalling as a Source of Policy Dynamics

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  • Stephen Hansen
  • Michael McMahon

Abstract

We provide the first direct empirical support for the importance of signalling in monetary policy by testing two key predictions from a novel structural model. First, all policymaker types should become less tough on inflation over time and secondly, types that weigh output more should have a more pronounced shift. Voting data from the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee strongly support both predictions. Counterfactual results indicate signalling has a substantial impact on interest rates over the business cycle, and improves the committee designer's welfare. Implications for committee design include allowing regular member turnover and transparency regarding publishing individual votes.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Hansen & Michael McMahon, 2016. "First Impressions Matter: Signalling as a Source of Policy Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(4), pages 1645-1672.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:83:y:2016:i:4:p:1645-1672.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdw007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gerling, Kerstin & Gruner, Hans Peter & Kiel, Alexandra & Schulte, Elisabeth, 2005. "Information acquisition and decision making in committees: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 563-597, September.
    2. Barro, Robert J., 1986. "Reputation in a model of monetary policy with incomplete information," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 3-20, January.
    3. Eijffinger, Sylvester & Mahieu, Ronald & Raes, Louis, 2018. "Inferring hawks and doves from voting records," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 107-120.
    4. Orphanides, Athanasios & Williams, John C., 2005. "The decline of activist stabilization policy: Natural rate misperceptions, learning, and expectations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1927-1950, November.
    5. Stephen Hansen & Michael McMahon, 2013. "Estimating Bayesian Decision Problems with Heterogeneous Priors," CAMA Working Papers 2013-18, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    6. Francesco Bianchi & Leonardo Melosi, 2018. "Constrained Discretion and Central Bank Transparency," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 100(1), pages 187-202, March.
    7. James Bullard & Stefano Eusepi, 2005. "Did the Great Inflation Occur Despite Policymaker Commitment to a Taylor Rule?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(2), pages 324-359, April.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:92:y:1998:i:01:p:23-35_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Hansen, Stephen & McMahon, Michael & Velasco Rivera, Carlos, 2014. "Preferences or private assessments on a monetary policy committee?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 16-32.
    10. Timothy Besley & Neil Meads & Paolo Surico, 2008. "Insiders versus Outsiders in Monetary Policymaking," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 218-223, May.
    11. Hansen, Stephen & McMahon, Michael, 2008. "Delayed doves: MPC voting behaviour of externals," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19611, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    12. Duggan, John & Martinelli, Cesar, 2001. "A Bayesian Model of Voting in Juries," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 259-294, November.
    13. Matias Iaryczower & Matthew Shum, 2012. "The Value of Information in the Court: Get It Right, Keep It Tight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 202-237, February.
    14. Vickers, John, 1986. "Signalling in a Model of Monetary Policy with Incomplete Information," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 443-455, November.
    15. Clare Leaver, 2009. "Bureaucratic Minimal Squawk Behavior: Theory and Evidence from Regulatory Agencies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 572-607, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Neuenkirch, Matthias & Tillmann, Peter, 2014. "Superstar Central Bankers," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100489, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Riboni, Alessandro & Ruge-Murcia, Francisco, 2014. "Dissent in monetary policy decisions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 137-154.
    3. Matthias Neuenkirch & Peter Tillmann, 2016. "Does A Good Central Banker Make A Difference?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(3), pages 1541-1560, July.
    4. Carlos Carvalho & Tiago Fl´orido & Eduardo Zilberman, "undated". "Transitions in Central Bank Leadership," Textos para discussão 657, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
    5. Matthias Neuenkirch, 2015. "Establishing a hawkish reputation: interest rate setting by newly appointed central bank governors," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(5), pages 391-396, March.
    6. Malmendier, Ulrike M. & Nagel, Stefan & Yan, Zhen, 2017. "The Making of Hawks and Doves: Inflation Experiences on the FOMC," CEPR Discussion Papers 11902, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. repec:eee:wdevel:v:106:y:2018:i:c:p:40-50 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Matthias Neuenkirch & Florian Neumeier, 2015. "Party affiliation rather than former occupation: the background of central bank governors and its effect on monetary policy," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(17), pages 1424-1429, November.
    9. Hansen, Stephen & McMahon, Michael & Velasco Rivera, Carlos, 2014. "Preferences or private assessments on a monetary policy committee?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 16-32.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy

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