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Talking about monetary policy: the virtues (and vice?) of central bank communication

  • Alan Blinder

Central banks, which used to be so secretive, are communicating more and more these days about their monetary policy. This development has proceeded hand in glove with a burgeoning new scholarly literature on the subject. The empirical evidence, reviewed selectively here, suggests that communication can move financial markets, enhance the predictability of monetary policy decisions, and perhaps even help central banks achieve their goals. A number of theoretical drawbacks to greater communication are also reviewed here. None seems very important in practice. That said, no consensus has yet emerged regarding what constitutes "optimal" communication strategy - either in quantity or nature. This is part of a series of BIS Working Papers (273 to 278) collecting papers presented at the BIS's Seventh Annual Conference on "Whither monetary policy? Monetary policy challenges in the decade ahead" in Luzern, Switzerland, on 26-27 June 2008. The event brought together senior representatives of central banks and academic institutions to exchange views on this topic. BIS Paper 45 contains the opening address of William R White (BIS), the contributions of the policy panel on "Beyond price stability - the challenges ahead" and speeches by Edmund Phelps (Columbia University) and Martin Wolf (Financial Times). The participants in the policy panel discussion chaired by Malcolm D Knight (BIS) were Martin Feldstein (Harvard University), Stanley Fischer (Bank of Israel), Mark Carney (Bank of Canada) and Jean-Pierre Landau (Banque de France). This Working Paper includes comments by Benjamin M Friedman and YV Reddy.

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Paper provided by Bank for International Settlements in its series BIS Working Papers with number 274.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:274
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  1. Vittorio Corbo & Óscar Landerretche & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel, 2002. "Does Inflation Targeting Make a Difference?," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series, in: Norman Loayza & Raimundo Soto & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Series Editor) (ed.), Inflation Targeting: Desing, Performance, Challenges, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 5, pages 221-270 Central Bank of Chile.
  2. Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher, 2007. "Communication by Central Bank Committee Members: Different Strategies, Same Effectiveness?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(2-3), pages 509-541, 03.
  3. Johnson, David R., 2002. "The effect of inflation targeting on the behavior of expected inflation: evidence from an 11 country panel," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 1521-1538, November.
  4. Alan S. Blinder & Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher & Jakob de Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2008. "Central Bank Communication and Monetary Policy: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," DNB Working Papers 170, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  5. Pierre Gosselin, Aileen Lotz and Charles Wyplosz, 2007. "Interest Rate Signals and Central Bank Transparency," IHEID Working Papers 19-2007, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies, revised Aug 2007.
  6. Rosa, Carlo & Verga, Giovanni, 2007. "On the consistency and effectiveness of central bank communication: Evidence from the ECB," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 146-175, March.
  7. Marco Vega & Diego Winkelried, 2005. "Inflation Targeting and Inflation Behavior: A Successful Story?," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 1(3), December.
  8. Andersson, Malin & Dillen, Hans & Sellin, Peter, 2006. "Monetary policy signaling and movements in the term structure of interest rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 1815-1855, November.
  9. Goodfriend, Marvin, 1986. "Monetary mystique: Secrecy and central banking," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 63-92, January.
  10. Reeves, Rachel & Sawicki, Michael, 2007. "Do financial markets react to Bank of England communication?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 207-227, March.
  11. Blinder, Alan S., 2007. "Monetary policy by committee: Why and how?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 106-123, March.
  12. Lapp, John S & Pearce, Douglas K, 2000. "Does a Bias in FOMC Policy Directives Help Predict Intermeeting Policy Changes?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(3), pages 435-41, August.
  13. Michael R. Pakko, 2003. "On the information content of asymmetric FOMC policy statements: evidence from a Taylor-rule perspective," Working Papers 2003-016, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  14. Rodriguez-Palenzuela, Diego & Castelnuovo, Efrem & Nicoletti-Altimari, Sergio, 2003. "Definition of price stability, range and point inflation targets: the anchoring of long-term inflation expectations," Working Paper Series 0273, European Central Bank.
  15. David Johnson, 2003. "The Effect of Inflation Targets on the Level of Expected Inflation in Five Countries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 1076-1081, November.
  16. Meade, Ellen E & Sheets, D Nathan, 2005. "Regional Influences on FOMC Voting Patterns," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(4), pages 661-77, August.
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