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The Central Banker as a Risk Manager: Estimating the Federal Reserve's Preferences under Greenspan

  • Kilian, Lutz
  • Manganelli, Simone

Motivated by policy statements of central bankers, we propose to regard the central banker as a risk manager who aims at containing inflation and the deviation of output from potential within pre-specified bounds. We develop formal tools of risk management that may be used to quantify the risks of failing to attain that objective. Risk measures inherently depend on the loss function of the user. We propose a simple, yet flexible class of loss functions that nests the standard assumption of quadratic symmetric preferences, while being congruent with a risk management model. We show how the parameters of this loss function under weak assumptions may be estimated from realizations for inflation and output gap data even in the absence of a fully specified structural model of the economy. We present estimates of the Federal Reserve’s risk aversion parameters with respect to the inflation and output objectives during the Greenspan period. We formally test for and reject the standard assumptions of quadratic and symmetric preference that underlies the derivation of the Taylor rule. Our results suggest that Fed policy decisions under Greenspan are better understood in terms of the Fed weighing upside and downside risks to their objectives rather than simply responding to the conditional mean of inflation and of the output gap. We derive a natural generalization of the Taylor rule that links changes in the interest rate to the balance of the risks implied by the dual objective of sustainable economic growth and price stability. Unlike standard Taylor rules, this generalized policy rule is consistent with the wording of policy decisions by the Federal Reserve.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6031.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6031
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  1. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 1997. "Monetary policy rules and macroeconomic stability: Evidence and some theory," Economics Working Papers 350, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 1999.
  2. Alex Cukierman & Anton Muscatelli, 2001. "Do Central Banks have Precautionary Demands for Expansions and for Price Stability?," Working Papers 2002_4, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow, revised Mar 2002.
  3. Daniel F. Waggoner & Tao Zha, 1998. "Conditional forecasts in dynamic multivariate models," Working Paper 98-22, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  4. Clarida, R. & Gali, J. & Gertler, M., 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," Working Papers 99-13, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  5. Bernanke, Ben S. & Boivin, Jean, 2003. "Monetary policy in a data-rich environment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 525-546, April.
  6. Lutz KILIAN & Simone MANGANELLI, . "Quantifying the Risk of Deflation," EcoMod2004 330600076, EcoMod.
  7. Suleyman Basak & Alex Shapiro, . "Value-at-Risk Based Risk Management: Optimal Policies and Asset Prices," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 06-99, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  8. Svensson, Lars E. O., 2002. "Inflation targeting: Should it be modeled as an instrument rule or a targeting rule?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 771-780, May.
  9. Ruge-Murcia, Francisco J, 2003. " Inflation Targeting under Asymmetric Preferences," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(5), pages 763-85, October.
  10. Holthausen, Duncan M, 1981. "A Risk-Return Model with Risk and Return Measured as Deviations from a Target Return," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(1), pages 182-88, March.
  11. Hall, Alastair R. & Inoue, Atsushi & Jana, Kalidas & Shin, Changmock, 2007. "Information in generalized method of moments estimation and entropy-based moment selection," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 138(2), pages 488-512, June.
  12. Taimur Baig & Jörg Decressin & Tarhan Feyzioglu & Manmohan S. Kumar & Chris Faulkner-MacDonagh, 2003. "Deflation; Determinants, Risks, and Policy Options," IMF Occasional Papers 221, International Monetary Fund.
  13. Fishburn, Peter C, 1977. "Mean-Risk Analysis with Risk Associated with Below-Target Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 116-26, March.
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