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Imperfect Knowledge And The Pitfalls Of Optimal Control Monetary Policy

  • Athanasios Orphanides
  • John C. Williams

This paper examines the robustness characteristics of optimal control policies derived under the assumption of rational expectations to alternative models of expectations formation and uncertainty about the natural rates of interest and unemployment. We assume that agents have imperfect knowledge about the precise structure of the economy and form expectations using a forecasting model that they continuously update based on incoming data. We also allow for central bank uncertainty regarding the natural rates of interest and unemployment. We find that the optimal control policy derived under the assumption of rational expectations performs rather poorly when agents learn. These problems are exacerbated by natural rate uncertainty, even

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Paper provided by Central Bank of Chile in its series Working Papers Central Bank of Chile with number 499.

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Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chb:bcchwp:499
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  1. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2002. "Robust monetary policy rules with unknown natural rates," Working Paper Series 2003-01, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. Marcet, Albert & Sargent, Thomas J., 1989. "Convergence of least squares learning mechanisms in self-referential linear stochastic models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 337-368, August.
  3. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2006. "Inflation targeting under imperfect knowledge," Working Paper Series 2006-14, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  4. Svensson, Lars O & Tetlow, Robert J, 2005. "Optimal Policy Projections," MPRA Paper 839, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Levin, Andrew & Wieland, Volker & Williams, John C., 2003. "The performance of forecast-based monetary policy rules under model uncertainty," CFS Working Paper Series 2003/06, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  6. Athanasios Orphanides & Simon van Norden, 2001. "The Unreliability of Output Gap Estimates in Real Time," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-57, CIRANO.
  7. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Inflation Targeting Rules," NBER Working Papers 9939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  9. Orphanides, Athanasios & Williams, John C., 2003. "Imperfect knowledge, inflation expectations, and monetary policy," CFS Working Paper Series 2003/40, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  10. Thomas Laubach & John C. Williams, 2003. "Measuring the Natural Rate of Interest," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 1063-1070, November.
  11. Fabio Milani, 2005. "Expectations, Learning and Macroeconomic Persistence," Macroeconomics 0510022, EconWPA.
  12. Alex Cukierman & Francesco Lippi, 2004. "Endogenous monetary policy with unobserved potential output," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 493, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  13. Andrew Levin & Volker Wieland & John C. Williams, 1998. "Robustness of Simple Monetary Policy Rules under Model Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 6570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Lars Svensson & Noah Williams, 2005. "Monetary Policy with Model Uncertainty: Distribution Forecast Targeting," NBER Working Papers 11733, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Levin, Andrew T. & Williams, John C., 2003. "Robust monetary policy with competing reference models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 945-975, July.
  16. Brock, William A. & Durlauf, Steven N. & West, Kenneth D., 2007. "Model uncertainty and policy evaluation: Some theory and empirics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 136(2), pages 629-664, February.
  17. Thomas J. Sargent, 2008. "Evolution and Intelligent Design," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 5-37, March.
  18. Robert J. Tetlow, 2010. "Real-time model uncertainty in the United States: 'Robust' policies put to the test," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-15, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  19. Clark, Todd E. & Kozicki, Sharon, 2005. "Estimating equilibrium real interest rates in real time," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 395-413, December.
  20. Taylor, John B., 1999. "The robustness and efficiency of monetary policy rules as guidelines for interest rate setting by the European central bank," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 655-679, June.
  21. Milton Friedman, 1947. "Lerner on the Economics of Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55, pages 405.
  22. Lars E.O. Svensson & Michael Woodford, 2000. "Indicator Variables for Optimal Policy," NBER Working Papers 7953, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Peter Isard & Douglas Laxton & Ann-Charlotte Eliasson, 1999. "Simple Monetary Policy Rules Under Model Uncertainty," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 6(4), pages 537-577, November.
  24. Wiliam Branch & George W. Evans, 2005. "A Simple Recursive Forecasting Model," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2005-3, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 01 Feb 2005.
  25. John C. Williams, 2003. "Simple rules for monetary policy," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 1-12.
  26. Timothy Cogley & Thomas J. Sargent, 2002. "Evolving Post-World War II U.S. Inflation Dynamics," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2001, Volume 16, pages 331-388 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Orphanides, Athanasios & Porter, Richard D. & Reifschneider, David & Tetlow, Robert & Finan, Frederico, 2000. "Errors in the measurement of the output gap and the design of monetary policy," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(1-2), pages 117-141.
  28. Mccallum, Bennet T., 1988. "Robustness properties of a rule for monetary policy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 173-203, January.
  29. Vitor Gaspar & Frank Smets & David Vestin, 2006. "Adaptive Learning, Persistence, and Optimal Monetary Policy," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 376-385, 04-05.
  30. Thomas Laubach, 2001. "Measuring The NAIRU: Evidence From Seven Economies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 218-231, May.
  31. 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.
  32. Schmidt-Hebbel, Klaus & Tapia, Matias, 2002. "Inflation targeting in Chile," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 125-146, August.
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