IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cpr/ceprdp/5772.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

How Robust is the New Conventional Wisdom? The Surprising Fragility of the Theoretical Foundations of Inflation Targeting and Central Bank Independence

Author

Listed:
  • Buiter, Willem H.

Abstract

Flexible inflation targeting cannot be rationalised using conventional welfare economic criteria, except in a single, practically uninteresting special case. New-Keynesian DSGE models imply that optimal monetary policy implements the Bailey-Friedman Optimal Quantity of Money rule and that actual inflation fully validates or accommodates core inflation. Flexible inflation targeting is also inconsistent with the mandates of leading inflation targeters like the Bank of England and the ECB. These mandates are lexicographic in price stability and therefore does not permit a trade-off between inflation volatility and output gap volatility in the monetary policy maker's objective function. Operational independence of the central bank is limited by the central bank's intertemporal budget constraint. Price stability, or an externally imposed inflation target, may not be independently financeable by the central bank. In that case, active budgetary support from the Treasury is necessary to make the inflation target financeable. Independent monetary policy is fully compatible with coordinated and cooperative monetary and fiscal policy. Central bank operational independence precludes substantive accountability; it is compatible only with a weak form of formal accountability: reporting obligations. Central bank independence will only survive if it is viewed as legitimate by the polity and its citizens. A necessary condition for this is that the central bank restricts its activities and public discourse to its natural core mandate: price stability and the capacity and willingness to act as lender of last resort. The Protocol on the Statute of the ESCB and the ECB has given the ECB a mandate that goes beyond this natural core mandate. Such behaviour represents a threat to its continued independence.

Suggested Citation

  • Buiter, Willem H., 2006. "How Robust is the New Conventional Wisdom? The Surprising Fragility of the Theoretical Foundations of Inflation Targeting and Central Bank Independence," CEPR Discussion Papers 5772, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5772
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5772
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Pierpaolo Benigno & Michael Woodford, 2005. "Inflation Stabilization And Welfare: The Case Of A Distorted Steady State," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(6), pages 1185-1236, December.
    2. Feldstein, Martin S, 1979. "The Welfare Cost of Permanent Inflation and Optimal Short-Run Economic Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 749-768, August.
    3. Fischer, Stanley, 1981. "Towards an understanding of the costs of inflation: II," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 5-41, January.
    4. Svensson, Lars E. O., 1997. "Inflation forecast targeting: Implementing and monitoring inflation targets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 1111-1146, June.
    5. M. Fase, 2005. "On Economics and Religion," De Economist, Springer, vol. 153(1), pages 85-106, December.
    6. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 2019. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Credit and Capital Markets, Credit and Capital Markets, vol. 52(4), pages 505-525.
    7. Tommaso Padoa‐Schioppa, 1999. "EMU and Banking Supervision," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(2), pages 295-308, July.
    8. Willem H. Buiter & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 2003. "Overcoming the zero bound on nominal interest rates with negative interest on currency: gesell's solution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 723-746, October.
    9. Svensson, Lars E. O., 1999. "Inflation targeting as a monetary policy rule," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 607-654, June.
    10. Guillermo Calvo & Oya Celasun & Michael Kumhof, 2003. "Inflation Inertia and Credible Disinflation - The Open Economy Case," NBER Working Papers 9557, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Anne Sibert & Anne C. Sibert, 1999. "Monetary Policy Committees: Individual and Collective Reputations," CESifo Working Paper Series 226, CESifo.
    12. Olivier Blanchard & Jordi Galí, 2007. "Real Wage Rigidities and the New Keynesian Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(s1), pages 35-65, February.
    13. Marta Campillo & Jeffrey A. Miron, 1997. "Why Does Inflation Differ across Countries?," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 335-362, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Robert H. Rasche & Marcela M. Williams, 2007. "The effectiveness of monetary policy," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 89(Sep), pages 447-490.
    15. Ozkan, F Gulcin, 2000. " Who Wants an Independent Central Bank? Monetary Policy-Making and Politics," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(4), pages 621-643, December.
    16. Robert J. Shiller, 1997. "Why Do People Dislike Inflation?," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 13-70, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. William J. Baumol, 1952. "The Transactions Demand for Cash: An Inventory Theoretic Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(4), pages 545-556.
    18. Marvin Goodfriend, 2000. "Overcoming the zero bound on interest rate policy," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 1007-1057.
    19. Wyplosz, Charles, 2002. "Fiscal Policy: Institutions versus Rules," CEPR Discussion Papers 3238, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    20. Robert E. Lucas & N. Gregory Mankiw & Michael Woodford, 2005. "Panel discussion: understanding price determination: where are we now? where should we be going?," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    21. Alesina, Alberto & Summers, Lawrence H, 1993. "Central Bank Independence and Macroeconomic Performance: Some Comparative Evidence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 25(2), pages 151-162, May.
    22. Christopher A. Sims, 2001. "Fiscal Aspects of Central Bank Independence," CESifo Working Paper Series 547, CESifo.
    23. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2005. "Nominal Rigidities and the Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 1-45, February.
    24. Willem H. Buiter, 2004. "Two Naked Emperors? Concerns about the Stability & Growth Pact and Second Thoughts about Central Bank Independence," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 25(3), pages 249-277, September.
    25. Anne Sibert, 2006. "Central Banking by Committee," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(2), pages 145-168, August.
    26. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2000. "Inflation and Welfare," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 247-274, March.
    27. Mihov, Ilian & Sibert, Anne, 2002. "Credibility and Flexibility with Monetary Policy Committees," CEPR Discussion Papers 3278, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    28. Alan S. Blinder, 2006. "Monetary Policy Today: Sixteen Questions and about Twelve Answers," Working Papers 73, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    29. Martin S. Feldstein, 1997. "The Costs and Benefits of Going from Low Inflation to Price Stability," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 123-166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    30. McCallum, Bennett T, 1995. "Two Fallacies Concerning Central-Bank Independence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 207-211, May.
    31. McCallum, Bennett T., 1997. "Crucial issues concerning central bank independence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 99-112, June.
    32. Willem H. Buiter, 2005. "New Developments in Monetary Economics: Two ghosts, Two Eccentricities, a Fallacy, a Mirage and a Mythos," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages 1-31, March.
    33. Andrew S. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 703-725.
    34. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Stokey, Nancy L, 1987. "Money and Interest in a Cash-in-Advance Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 491-513, May.
    35. Cukierman, Alex & Webb, Steven B & Neyapti, Bilin, 1992. "Measuring the Independence of Central Banks and Its Effect on Policy Outcomes," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 6(3), pages 353-398, September.
    36. Willem H. Buiter, 2003. "Helicopter Money: Irredeemable Fiat Money and the Liquidity Trap," NBER Working Papers 10163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    37. repec:pri:cepsud:129blinder is not listed on IDEAS
    38. Buiter, Willem H & Jewitt, Ian, 1981. "Staggered Wage Setting with Real Wage Relativities: Variations on a Theme of Taylor," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 49(3), pages 211-228, September.
    39. Beetsma, Roel M. W. J. & Bovenberg, A. Lans, 1997. "Central bank independence and public debt policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 21(4-5), pages 873-894, May.
    40. Forder, James, 1998. "Central Bank Independence--Conceptual Clarifications and Interim Assessment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(3), pages 307-334, July.
    41. Lars E.O. Svensson, 2006. "The Instrument-Rate Projection under Inflation Targeting: The Norwegian Example," Working Papers 75, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    42. repec:pri:cepsud:127svensson is not listed on IDEAS
    43. Yun, Tack, 1996. "Nominal price rigidity, money supply endogeneity, and business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 345-370, April.
    44. Alan S. Blinder, 1999. "Central Banking in Theory and Practice," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522608, September.
    45. Willem H. Buiter & Marcus H. Miller, 1983. "Costs and Benefits of an Anti-Inflationary Policy: Questions and Issues," NBER Working Papers 1252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    46. Marc Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2004. "Optimal Inflation-Targeting Rules," NBER Chapters, in: The Inflation-Targeting Debate, pages 93-172, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    47. Jakob de Haan & Sylvester C. W. Eijffinger & Sandra Waller, 2005. "The European Central Bank: Credibility, Transparency, and Centralization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262042266, September.
    48. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Collignon & Sebastian Diessner, 2016. "The ECB's Monetary Dialogue with the European Parliament: Efficiency and Accountability during the Euro Crisis?," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(6), pages 1296-1312, November.
    2. Marc Quintyn, 2009. "Independent agencies: more than a cheap copy of independent central banks?," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 267-295, September.
    3. Alberto Locarno, 2007. "Imperfect Knowledge, Adaptive Learning, and the Bias Against Activist Monetary Policies," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 3(3), pages 47-85, September.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Buiter, Willem H., 2006. "The elusive welfare economics of price stability as a monetary policy objective: why New Keynesian central bankers should validate core inflation," Working Paper Series 609, European Central Bank.
    2. Willem Buiter, 2004. "A Small Corner of Intertemporal Public Finance - New Developments in Monetary Economics: 2 Ghosts, 2 Eccentricities, A Fallacy, A Mirage and A Mythos," NBER Working Papers 10524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Willem H. Buiter, 2007. "Is Numerairology the Future of Monetary Economics? Unbundling numeraire and medium of exchange through a virtual currency and a shadow exchange rate," NBER Working Papers 12839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Akhand Akhtar Hossain, 2009. "Central Banking and Monetary Policy in the Asia-Pacific," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 12777.
    5. Willem H. Buiter, 2004. "The Elusive Welfare Economics of Price Stability as a Monetary Policy Objective: Should New Keynesian Central Bankers Pursue Price Stability?," NBER Working Papers 10848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Richard Mash, 2000. "The Time Inconsistency of Monetary Policy with Inflation Persistence," Economics Series Working Papers 15, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    7. Henrik Jensen, 2002. "Targeting Nominal Income Growth or Inflation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 928-956, September.
    8. Dennis, Richard & Soderstrom, Ulf, 2006. "How Important Is Precommitment for Monetary Policy?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(4), pages 847-872, June.
    9. Kenneth Scheve, 2003. "Public demand for low inflation," Bank of England working papers 172, Bank of England.
    10. Josh Ryan-Collins & Frank van Lerven, 2018. "Bringing the helicopter to ground: a historical review of fiscal-monetary coordination to support economic growth in the 20th century," Working Papers PKWP1810, Post Keynesian Economics Society (PKES).
    11. Daunfeldt, Sven-Olov & de Luna, Xavier, 2002. "Central Bank Independence and Price Stability: Evidence from 23 OECD-countries," Umeå Economic Studies 589, Umeå University, Department of Economics, revised 12 Jun 2003.
    12. Buiter, Willem H., 2014. "Central Banks: Powerful, Political and Unaccountable?," CEPR Discussion Papers 10223, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Schaumburg, Ernst & Tambalotti, Andrea, 2007. "An investigation of the gains from commitment in monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 302-324, March.
    14. Buiter, Willem H., 2007. "Seigniorage," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 1, pages 1-49.
    15. Ruge-Murcia, Francisco J, 2003. "Inflation Targeting under Asymmetric Preferences," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(5), pages 763-785, October.
    16. Hielscher, Kai & Markwardt, Gunther, 2012. "The role of political institutions for the effectiveness of central bank independence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 286-301.
    17. Mishkin, F.S., 1998. "International Experiences with Different Monetary Policy Regimes," Papers 648, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
    18. Weymark, Diana N., 2007. "Inflation, government transfers, and optimal central bank independence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 297-315, February.
    19. Roberto M. Billi, 2011. "Optimal Inflation for the US Economy," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 29-52, July.
    20. Frederic S Mishkin, 1997. "Strategies for Controlling Inflation," RBA Annual Conference Volume (Discontinued), in: Philip Lowe (ed.),Monetary Policy and Inflation Targeting, Reserve Bank of Australia.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    accountability; central bank intertemporal budget constraint; flexible inflation targeting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5772. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: https://www.cepr.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.