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The Mystique of Central Bank Speak

  • Geraats, P.M.

Despite the recent trend towards greater transparency of monetary policy, in many respects central bankers still prefer to speak with mystique. This paper shows that the resulting perception of ambiguity could be desirable. Under the plausible assumption that there is imperfect common knowledge about the degree of central bank transparency, economic outcomes are affected by both the actual and perceived degree of transparency. It is shown that actual transparency is beneficial but that it may be useful to create the perception of opacity. The optimal communication strategy for the central bank is to provide clarity about the inflation target and to communicate information about the output target and supply shocks with perceived ambiguity. In this respect, the central bank benefits from sustaining transparency misperceptions, which helps to explain the mystique of central bank speak.

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File URL: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe0543.pdf
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Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 0543.

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Length: 29
Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0543
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Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/index.htm

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  1. Jon Faust & Lars E.O. Svensson, 1998. "Transparency and credibility: monetary policy with unobservable goals," International Finance Discussion Papers 605, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Jensen, Henrik, 2002. " Optimal Degrees of Transparency in Monetary Policymaking," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(3), pages 399-422, September.
  3. Eijffinger, Sylvester C W & Hoeberichts, Marco & Schaling, Eric, 2000. "Why Money Talks and Wealth Whispers: Monetary Uncertainty and Mystique," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(2), pages 218-35, May.
  4. Petra M. Geraats, 2002. "Central Bank Transparency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 532-565, November.
  5. Marvin Goodfriend, 1985. "Monetary mystique : secrecy and central banking," Working Paper 85-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  6. Beetsma, Roel M W J & Jensen, Henrik, 2003. " Why Money Talks and Wealth Whispers: Monetary Uncertainty and Mystique: Comment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(1), pages 129-36, February.
  7. Geraats Petra M., 2005. "Transparency and Reputation: The Publication of Central Bank Forecasts," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-28, February.
  8. Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1986. "A Theory of Ambiguity, Credibility, and Inflation under Discretion and Asymmetric Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1099-1128, September.
  9. Petra M. Geraats, 2006. "Transparency of Monetary Policy: Theory and Practice," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 52(1), pages 111-152, March.
  10. Geraats, P.M., 2004. "Modelling Stochastic Relative Preferences," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0468, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  11. S[empty]rensen, Jan Rose, 1991. "Political uncertainty and macroeconomic performance," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 377-381, December.
  12. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-89, November.
  13. 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.
  14. Volker Hahn, 2009. "Transparency of Central Bank Preferences," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 10, pages 32-49, 02.
  15. Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2002. "Social Value of Public Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1521-1534, December.
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