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Interest Rate Signals and Central Bank Transparency


  • Gosselin, Pierre
  • Lotz, Aileen
  • Wyplosz, Charles


The present paper extends the literature on central bank transparency that relies on information heterogeneity among private agents in four directions. First, it adds the interest rate to the list of signals that the central bank can reveal. Second, it allows for more than one economic fundamental. Third, it extends the range of uncertainties that matter. So far the literature has focused on uncertainty about the economic fundamentals, assumed to be estimated with known precision; we also allow for uncertainty about precision. Fourth, it derives results that are general in the sense that they do not depend on any particular social welfare criterion. Each extension sheds new light on the role of central bank transparency. Focusing on the signaling role of the interest rate, we consider various degrees of transparency, ranging from full opacity, to just publishing the interest rate, to also revealing the signals and estimates of their precision. While uncertainty about the fundamentals results in the now familiar common knowledge effect, uncertainty about information precision creates a fog effect, which reduces the quality of decisions taken by the central bank and the private sector. In the absence of the fog effect, full transparency is generally not desirable, because it deprives the central bank from the ability to optimally manipulate private sector expectations. When the central bank's fog is large, we find that full transparency is usually the best communication strategy. This result tends to survive when the private sector's fog is large. Full opacity is only desirable when the central bank is poorly informed. Another result that emerges from our analysis is that it is usually desirable for the central bank to divulge some information, even if it is erroneous, and known to be erroneous. The reason is that, when the private sector knows that the central bank is mistaken, it needs to evaluate the extent of its mistakes.

Suggested Citation

  • Gosselin, Pierre & Lotz, Aileen & Wyplosz, Charles, 2007. "Interest Rate Signals and Central Bank Transparency," CEPR Discussion Papers 6454, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6454

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Christian Hellwig, 2004. "Heterogeneous Information and the Benefits of Public Information Disclosures (October 2005)," UCLA Economics Online Papers 283, UCLA Department of Economics.
    7. Mauro F Roca, 2010. "Transparency and Monetary Policy with Imperfect Common Knowledge," IMF Working Papers 10/91, International Monetary Fund.
    8. Petra M. Geraats, 2002. "Central Bank Transparency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 532-565, November.
    9. Geraats Petra M., 2005. "Transparency and Reputation: The Publication of Central Bank Forecasts," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-28, February.
    10. Charles Bean, 2005. "Monetary Policy in an Uncertain World," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 6(1), pages 31-53, January.
    11. Vickers, John, 1986. "Signalling in a Model of Monetary Policy with Incomplete Information," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 443-455, November.
    12. Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2005. "Central Bank Transparency and the Signal Value of Prices," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(2), pages 1-66.
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    Cited by:

    1. van der Cruijsen, Carin A.B. & Eijffinger, Sylvester C.W. & Hoogduin, Lex H., 2010. "Optimal central bank transparency," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(8), pages 1482-1507, December.
    2. Alexandre Kohlhas, 2015. "Learning-by-Sharing: Monetary Policy and the Information Content of Public Signals," 2015 Meeting Papers 57, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Jakob de Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2009. "The communication policy of the European Central Bank: An overview of the first decade," DNB Working Papers 212, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    4. Alan S. Blinder & Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher & Jakob De Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2008. "Central Bank Communication and Monetary Policy: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 910-945, December.
    5. Benjamin Born & Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher, 2011. "How Should Central Banks Deal with a Financial Stability Objective? The Evolving Role of Communication as a Policy Instrument," Chapters,in: Handbook of Central Banking, Financial Regulation and Supervision, chapter 9 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. James, Jonathan G. & Lawler, Phillip, 2010. "Macroeconomic shocks, unionized labour markets and central bank disclosure policy: How beneficial is increased transparency?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 506-516, December.
    7. Kool, Clemens J. M. & Thornton, Daniel L., 2015. "How Effective Is Central Bank Forward Guidance?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 97(4), pages 303-322.
    8. Pierre Gosselin & Aileen Lotz & Charles Wyplosz, 2008. "The Expected Interest Rate Path: Alignment of Expectations vs. Creative Opacity," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 4(3), pages 145-185, September.
    9. Benjamin Born & Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher, 2011. "Macroprudential policy and central bank communication," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Macroprudential regulation and policy, volume 60, pages 107-110 Bank for International Settlements.
    10. Hayo, Bernd & Neuenkirch, Matthias, 2010. "Do Federal Reserve communications help predict federal funds target rate decisions?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 1014-1024, December.
    11. Alan S. Blinder, 2008. "Talking about Monetary Policy: The Virtues (and Vices?) of Central Bank Communication," Working Papers 1048, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    12. van der Cruijsen, C.A.B., 2008. "The economic impact of central bank transparency," Other publications TiSEM 86c1ba91-1952-45b4-adac-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    13. repec:pri:cepsud:164blinder is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Lindner Axel, 2009. "Evaluating Communication Strategies for Public Agencies: Transparency, Opacity, and Secrecy," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-18, July.
    15. repec:pri:cepsud:161blinder is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Florin Cornel DUMITER & Horatiu Florin SOIM, 2012. "Bank of England’s monetary policy committee – assessing the importance and the implication upon monetary policy," Anale. Seria Stiinte Economice. Timisoara, Faculty of Economics, Tibiscus University in Timisoara, vol. 0, pages 61-67, May.
    17. Neuenkirch, Matthias, 2013. "Central bank transparency and financial market expectations: The case of emerging markets," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 598-609.
    18. Lindner, Axel, 2008. "Evaluating communication strategies for public agencies: transparency, opacity, and secrecy," IWH Discussion Papers 8/2008, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).

    More about this item


    central bank transparency; information asymmetry; monetary policy;

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies

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