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Gaining Credibility for Inflation Targets

Listed author(s):
  • James Yetman

In this paper, I consider a simple model in which agents learn about the inflation target of a central bank over time by observing the policy instrument or inflation outcomes. Measuring credibility as the distance between the perceived target and the actual target, an increase in credibility is beneficial to the central bank because it brings the policy consistent with attaining the inflation target closer to that required to attain the output target. In this model, the crucial assumptions are that (i) the central bank knows what its target is, but lacks the means to credibly communicate it to agents, and (ii) observed changes in the policy instrument do not perfectly inform agents about the objective of the central bank. Optimal monetary policy therefore entails endogenizing the learning process of agents and solving the resultant "optimal-control" problem. I show that a linear approximation of the optimal-control problem is observationally equivalent to a "conservative central banker" in the sense of Rogoff (1985), results in most of the gains that are available from pursuing a higher-order approximation for reasonable degrees of initial credibility, and may actually be preferable if agents cannot determine the exact weights with which to update their view of the target. A conservative central banker is especially beneficial if society places a high weight on output deviations from target. I then illustrate the impact of other factors on credibility formation, including choice of monetary policy instrument, transparency, and publishing forecasts.

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File URL: http://www.bankofcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/wp01-11.pdf
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Paper provided by Bank of Canada in its series Staff Working Papers with number 01-11.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 2001
Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:01-11
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  1. Kenneth Rogoff, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-1189.
  2. Barro, Robert J & Gordon, David B, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 589-610, August.
  3. Kaminsky, Graciela L. & Leiderman, Leonardo, 1998. "High real interest rates in the aftermath of disinflation: is it a lack of credibility?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 191-214, February.
  4. Alex Cukierman, 1992. "Central Bank Strategy, Credibility, and Independence: Theory and Evidence," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262031981.
  5. Alan S. Blinder, 2000. "Central-Bank Credibility: Why Do We Care? How Do We Build It?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1421-1431, December.
  6. Faust, Jon & Svensson, Lars E O, 2001. "Transparency and Credibility: Monetary Policy with Unobservable Goals," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(2), pages 369-397, May.
  7. Geraats, Petra M., 2000. "Why Adopt Transparency? The Publication of Central Bank Forecasts," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt0hw7h7cp, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  8. Duguay, Pierre, 1994. "Empirical evidence on the strength of the monetary transmission mechanism in Canada: An aggregate approach," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 39-61, February.
  9. Goodfriend, Marvin, 1986. "Monetary mystique: Secrecy and central banking," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 63-92, January.
  10. Martin Evans & Paul Wachtel, 1993. "Inflation regimes and the sources of inflation uncertainty," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 475-520.
  11. Jean-François Fillion & André Léonard, 1997. "La courbe de Phillips au Canada : un examen de quelques hypothèses," Staff Working Papers 97-3, Bank of Canada.
  12. Fuhrer, Jeffrey C. & Hooker, Mark A., 1993. "Learning about monetary regime shifts in an overlapping wage contract model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 531-553, July.
  13. 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.
  14. Stein, Jeremy C, 1989. "Cheap Talk and the Fed: A Theory of Imprecise Policy Announcements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 32-42, March.
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