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First Impressions Matter: Signalling as a Source of Policy Dynamics

  • Stephen Hansen
  • Michael McMahon

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

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3782.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3782
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  1. John C. Williams & Athanasios Orphanides, 2004. "The Decline of Activist Stabilization Policy: Natural Rate Misperceptions, Learning, and Expectations," Computing in Economics and Finance 2004 144, Society for Computational Economics.
  2. James Bullard & Stefano Eusepi, 2003. "Did the Great Inflation Occur Despite Policymaker Commitment to a Taylor Rule?," Computing in Economics and Finance 2003 129, Society for Computational Economics.
  3. Stephen Hansen & Michael McMahon, 2013. "Estimating Bayesian Decision Problems with Heterogeneous Priors," CEP Discussion Papers dp1211, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Timothy Besley & Neil Meads & Paolo Surico, 2008. "Insiders versus outsiders in monetary policymaking," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33743, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Sibert, Anne, 1999. "Monetary Policy Committees: Individual and Collective Reputations," CEPR Discussion Papers 2328, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Stephen Hansen & Michael F. McMahon, 2008. "Delayed Doves: MPC Voting Behaviour of Externals," CEP Discussion Papers dp0862, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Francesco Bianchi & Leonardo Melosi, 2013. "Constrained Discretion and Central Bank Transparency," Working Papers 13-13, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  8. 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.
  9. D. Backus & J. Driffil, 1998. "Inflation and Reputation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625, David K. Levine.
  10. 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.
  11. Vickers, John, 1986. "Signalling in a Model of Monetary Policy with Incomplete Information," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 443-55, November.
  12. 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.
  13. 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 202-37, February.
  14. 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.
  15. Ehud Kalai & Ehud Lehrer, 1992. "Weak and Strong Merging of Opinions," Discussion Papers 983, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  16. 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.
  17. Eijffinger, Sylvester C W & Mahieu, Ronald J & Raes, Louis, 2013. "Inferring hawks and doves from voting records," CEPR Discussion Papers 9418, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. 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.
  19. 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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