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Purdah: on the rationale for central bank silence around policy meetings

  • Ehrmann, Michael
  • Fratzscher, Marcel

Despite substantial differences in monetary policy and communication strategies, many central banks share the practice of purdah, a self-imposed guideline of abstaining from communication around policy meetings or other important events. This practice is remarkable, as it seems to contradict the virtue of transparency by requiring central banks to withhold information precisely when it is sought after intensely. However, imposing such a limit to communication has often been justified on grounds that such communication may create excessive market volatility and unnecessary speculation. This short paper assesses the purdah for the Federal Reserve. The empirical results confirm the conjecture that financial markets are substantially more sensitive to central bank communication around policy meetings. Short-term interest rates react three to four times more strongly to statements in the purdah before FOMC meetings than during other times, and market volatility increases (compared to a volatility reduction induced by statements otherwise). The findings thus offer relevant insights about the limits to central bank transparency. JEL Classification: E58, E52, E43

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0868.

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Date of creation: Feb 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20080868
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  1. David H. Romer & Christina D. Romer, 2000. "Federal Reserve Information and the Behavior of Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 429-457, June.
  2. Gurkaynak, Refet S & Sack, Brian & Swanson, Eric T, 2005. "Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words? The Response of Asset Prices to Monetary Policy Actions and Statements," MPRA Paper 820, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "Monetary policy evaluation with noisy information," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 605-631, April.
  4. Ben S. Bernanke & Vincent R. Reinhart & Brian P. Sack, 2004. "Monetary Policy Alternatives at the Zero Bound: An Empirical Assessment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 35(2), pages 1-100.
  5. Jeffery D. Amato & Hyun Song Shin & Stephen Morris, 2003. "Communication and monetary policy," BIS Working Papers 123, Bank for International Settlements.
  6. Glenn D. Rudebusch & John C. Williams, 2008. "Revealing the Secrets of the Temple: The Value of Publishing Central Bank Interest Rate Projections," NBER Chapters, in: Asset Prices and Monetary Policy, pages 247-289 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Frederic S Mishkin, 2004. "Can Central Bank Transparency Go Too Far?," RBA Annual Conference Volume, in: Christopher Kent & Simon Guttmann (ed.), The Future of Inflation Targeting Reserve Bank of Australia.
  8. Ehrmann, Michael & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2005. "How should central banks communicate?," Working Paper Series 0557, European Central Bank.
  9. Ehrmann, Michael & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2005. "Communication and decision-making by central bank committees: different strategies, same effectiveness?," Working Paper Series 0488, European Central Bank.
  10. Michael Woodford, 2005. "Central bank communication and policy effectiveness," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Aug, pages 399-474.
  11. Ehrmann, Michael & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2005. "Transparency, disclosure and the federal reserve," Working Paper Series 0457, European Central Bank.
  12. Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2002. "Social Value of Public Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1521-1534, December.
  13. Guthrie, Graeme & Wright, Julian, 2000. "Open mouth operations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 489-516, October.
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