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The Mystique of Central Bank Speak

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  • Geraats, P.M.

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Geraats, P.M., 2005. "The Mystique of Central Bank Speak," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0543, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0543
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    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 218-235, May.
    4. 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.
    5. Goodfriend, Marvin, 1986. "Monetary mystique: Secrecy and central banking," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 63-92, January.
    6. S[empty]rensen, Jan Rose, 1991. "Political uncertainty and macroeconomic performance," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 377-381, December.
    7. Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2002. "Social Value of Public Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1521-1534, December.
    8. Volker Hahn, 2009. "Transparency of Central Bank Preferences," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 10, pages 32-49, February.
    9. Jensen, Henrik, 2002. " Optimal Degrees of Transparency in Monetary Policymaking," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(3), pages 399-422, September.
    10. 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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    12. 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.
    13. 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 129-136, February.
    14. Petra M. Geraats, 2002. "Central Bank Transparency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 532-565, November.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Transparency; monetary policy; communication; transparency misperceptions.;

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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