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Optimal Choice of Monetary Policy Instruments in a Macroeconometric Model



It has been nearly twenty years since Poole (1970) wrote his classic article on the optimal choice of monetary policy instruments in a stochastic IS-LM model. Poole assumed that the monetary authority (henceforth called the Fed) can control the interest rate or the money supply exactly. These are the two "instruments" of monetary policy. If the aim is to minimize the squared deviation of real output from its target value, Poole showed that the choice of the optimal instrument depends on the variance of the error term in the IS function, the variance of the error term in the LM function, the covariance of the two error terms, and the size of the parameters in the two functions. Most people would probably agree that between about 1979-10 and October 1982 the Fed tried to use the money supply as its primary instrument. This attempt does not appear to have been successful in the sense that since about 1982-10 the Fed seems to have gone back to using the interest rate as its primary instrument. If the interest rate has won out, it is interesting to ask if this decision can be justified on the basis of the Poole analysis. Is the economy one in which the relevant variances, covariance, and parameters are such as to lead a la the Poole analysis, to the optimal instrument being the interest rate? The purpose of this paper is to examine this question using my United States econometric model. Are the variances, covariances, and parameters in the model such as to favor one instrument over the other, in particular the interest rate over the money supply? This question can be examined in an econometric model by the use of stochastic simulation. Interestingly enough, Poole's analysis has never been tried on an actual econometric model. The closest study in this respect is that of Tinsley and von zur Muehlen (1983), although they did not analyze the same question that Poole did. Other studies that have extended Poole's work, such as those of Turnovsky (1975) and Yoshikawa (1981), have been primarily theoretical.

Suggested Citation

  • Ray C. Fair, 1987. "Optimal Choice of Monetary Policy Instruments in a Macroeconometric Model," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 818, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:818
    Note: CFP 734.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yoshikawa, Hiroshi, 1981. "Alternative Monetary Policies and Stability in a Stochastic Keynesian Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(3), pages 541-565, October.
    2. William Poole, 1969. "Optimal choice of monetary policy instruments in a simple stochastic macro model," Special Studies Papers 2, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Turnovsky, Stephen J, 1975. "Optimal Choice of Monetary Instrument in a Linear Economic Model with Stochastic Coefficients," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 7(1), pages 51-80, February.
    4. William Poole, 1970. "Optimal Choice of Monetary Policy Instruments in a Simple Stochastic Macro Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(2), pages 197-216.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dag Kolsrud, 2008. "Stochastic Ceteris Paribus Simulations," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 31(1), pages 21-43, February.


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