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First Impressions Matter: Signalling as a Source of Policy Dynamics

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  • Stephen Hansen
  • Michael McMahon

Abstract

We first establish that policymakers on the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee choose lower interest rates with experience. We then reject increasing confidence in private information or learning about the structure of the macroeconomy as explanations for this shift. Instead, a model in which voters signal their hawkishness to observers better fits the data. The motivation for signalling is consistent with wanting to control inflation expectations, but not career concerns or pleasing colleagues. There is also no evidence of capture by industry. The paper suggests that policy-motivated reputation building may be important for explaining dynamics in experts' policy choices.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Hansen & Michael McMahon, 2011. "First Impressions Matter: Signalling as a Source of Policy Dynamics," CEP Discussion Papers dp1074, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1074
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Timothy Besley & Neil Meads & Paolo Surico, 2008. "Insiders versus Outsiders in Monetary Policymaking," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 218-223, May.
    2. Hansen, Stephen & McMahon, Michael, 2008. "Delayed doves: MPC voting behaviour of externals," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19611, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2006. "Why Inflation Rose and Fell: Policy-Makers' Beliefs and U. S. Postwar Stabilization Policy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 867-901.
    4. Backus, David & Driffill, John, 1985. "Inflation and Reputation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 530-538, June.
    5. Gerling, Kerstin & Gruner, Hans Peter & Kiel, Alexandra & Schulte, Elisabeth, 2005. "Information acquisition and decision making in committees: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 563-597, September.
    6. Francesco Bianchi & Leonardo Melosi, 2018. "Constrained Discretion and Central Bank Transparency," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 100(1), pages 187-202, March.
    7. Barro, Robert J., 1986. "Reputation in a model of monetary policy with incomplete information," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 3-20, January.
    8. Eijffinger, Sylvester & Mahieu, Ronald & Raes, Louis, 2018. "Inferring hawks and doves from voting records," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 107-120.
    9. Stephen Hansen & Michael McMahon, 2013. "Estimating Bayesian Decision Problems with Heterogeneous Priors," CAMA Working Papers 2013-18, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    10. Orphanides, Athanasios & Williams, John C., 2005. "The decline of activist stabilization policy: Natural rate misperceptions, learning, and expectations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1927-1950, November.
    11. Duggan, John & Martinelli, Cesar, 2001. "A Bayesian Model of Voting in Juries," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 259-294, November.
    12. Kalai, Ehud & Lehrer, Ehud, 1994. "Weak and strong merging of opinions," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 73-86, January.
    13. James Bullard & Stefano Eusepi, 2005. "Did the Great Inflation Occur Despite Policymaker Commitment to a Taylor Rule?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(2), pages 324-359, April.
    14. Hansen, Stephen & McMahon, Michael, 2011. "How Experts Decide : Identifying Preferences versus Signals from Policy Decisions," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 963, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    15. Anne Sibert, 1999. "Monetary Policy Committees: Individual and Collective Reputations," CESifo Working Paper Series 226, CESifo Group Munich.
    16. Peter Sorensen & Marco Ottaviani, 2000. "Herd Behavior and Investment: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 695-704, June.
    17. repec:cup:apsrev:v:92:y:1998:i:01:p:23-35_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Matias Iaryczower & Matthew Shum, 2012. "The Value of Information in the Court: Get It Right, Keep It Tight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 202-237, February.
    19. 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.
    20. Clare Leaver, 2009. "Bureaucratic Minimal Squawk Behavior: Theory and Evidence from Regulatory Agencies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 572-607, June.
    21. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1996. "Convicting the Innocent: The Inferiority of Unanimous Jury Verdicts," Discussion Papers 1170, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    22. Hansen, Stephen & McMahon, Michael & Velasco Rivera, Carlos, 2014. "Preferences or private assessments on a monetary policy committee?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 16-32.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Neuenkirch, Matthias & Tillmann, Peter, 2014. "Superstar Central Bankers," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100489, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Riboni, Alessandro & Ruge-Murcia, Francisco, 2014. "Dissent in monetary policy decisions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 137-154.
    3. Malmendier, Ulrike M. & Nagel, Stefan & Yan, Zhen, 2017. "The Making of Hawks and Doves: Inflation Experiences on the FOMC," CEPR Discussion Papers 11902, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Matthias Neuenkirch & Peter Tillmann, 2016. "Does A Good Central Banker Make A Difference?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(3), pages 1541-1560, July.
    5. Matthias Neuenkirch & Florian Neumeier, 2015. "Party affiliation rather than former occupation: the background of central bank governors and its effect on monetary policy," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(17), pages 1424-1429, November.
    6. Matthias Neuenkirch, 2015. "Establishing a hawkish reputation: interest rate setting by newly appointed central bank governors," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(5), pages 391-396, March.
    7. Hansen, Stephen & McMahon, Michael & Velasco Rivera, Carlos, 2014. "Preferences or private assessments on a monetary policy committee?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 16-32.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Signalling; learning; monetary policy;

    JEL classification:

    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy

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