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Publicity of Debate and the Incentive to Dissent: Evidence from the US Federal Reserve

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  • Ellen E. Meade
  • David Stasavage

Abstract

When central banks are transparent about their decision making, there may be clear benefits in terms ofcredibility, policy effectiveness, and improved democratic accountability. While recent literature has focusedon all of these advantages of transparency, in this paper we consider one potential cost: the possibility thatpublishing detailed records of deliberations will make members of a monetary policy committee more reluctantto offer dissenting opinions. Drawing on the recent literature on expert advisors with ¿career concerns¿, weconstruct a model that compares incentives for members of a monetary policy committee to voice dissent whendeliberations occur in public, and when they occur in private. We then test the implications of the model usingan original dataset based on deliberations of the Federal Reserve¿s Federal Open Market Committee, askingwhether the FOMC¿s decision in 1993 to begin releasing full transcripts of its meetings has altered incentivesfor participants to voice dissenting opinions. We find this to be the case with regard to both opinions on shortterminterest rates and on the ¿bias¿ for future policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Ellen E. Meade & David Stasavage, 2004. "Publicity of Debate and the Incentive to Dissent: Evidence from the US Federal Reserve," CEP Discussion Papers dp0608, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0608
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrea Prat, 2005. "The Wrong Kind of Transparency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 862-877, June.
    2. 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.
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    4. Donald L. Kohn & Brian P. Sack, 2003. "Central bank talk: does it matter and why?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-55, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Ottaviani, Marco & Sorensen, Peter, 2001. "Information aggregation in debate: who should speak first?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 393-421, September.
    6. Georgios Chortareas & David Stasavage & Gabriel Sterne, 2003. "Does monetary policy transparency reduce disinflation costs?," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 71(5), pages 521-540, September.
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    Keywords

    transparency; central banking; career concerns;

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes

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