IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

How Optimal is US Monetary Policy?

  • Kirsanova, Tatiana
  • Leith, Campbell
  • Chen, Xiaoshan

Most of the literature estimating DSGE models for monetary policy analysis assume that policy follows a simple rule. In this paper we allow policy to be described by various forms of optimal policy - commitment, discretion and quasi-commitment. We find that, even after allowing for Markov switching in shock variances, the inflation target and/or rule parameters, the data preferred description of policy is that the US Fed operates under discretion with a marked increase in conservatism after the 1970s. Parameter estimates are similar to those obtained under simple rules, except that the degree of habits is significantly lower and the prevalence of cost-push shocks greater. Moreover, we find that the greatest welfare gains from the ‘Great Moderation’ arose from the reduction in the variances in shocks hitting the economy, rather than increased inflation aversion. However, much of the high inflation of the 1970s could have been avoided had policy makers been able to commit, even without adopting stronger anti-inflation objectives. More recently the Fed appears to have temporarily relaxed policy following the 1987 stock market crash, and has lost, without regaining, its post-Volcker conservatism following the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE) in its series SIRE Discussion Papers with number 2013-53.

in new window

Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edn:sirdps:480
Contact details of provider: Postal:
31 Buccleuch Place, EH8 9JT, Edinburgh

Phone: +44(0)1316508361
Fax: +44(0)1316504514
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Leith, Campbell & Wren-Lewis, Simon, 2009. "When is Monetary Policy All we Need?," SIRE Discussion Papers 2009-25, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  2. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
  3. Campbell Leith & Ioana Moldovan & Raffaele Rossi, 2008. "Optimal monetary policy in a new Keynesian model with habits in consumption," Working Papers 2008_30, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow, revised Dec 2008.
  4. Leith, Campbell & Malley, Jim, 2005. "Estimated general equilibrium models for the evaluation of monetary policy in the US and Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 2137-2159, November.
  5. Christopher A. Sims & Daniel F. Waggoner & Tao Zha, 2006. "Methods for inference in large multiple-equation Markov-switching models," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2006-22, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  6. Ernst Schaumburg & Andrea Tambalotti, 2003. "An investigation of the gains from commitment in monetary policy," Staff Reports 171, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  7. Tatiana Kirsanova & Stephanus le Roux, 2013. "Commitment vs. discretion in the UK: An empirical investigation of the monetary and fiscal policy regime," Working Papers 2013_07, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  8. Malin Adolfson & Stefan Laséen & Jesper Lindé & Lars E. O. Svensson, 2011. "Optimal monetary policy in an operational medium-sized DSGE model," International Finance Discussion Papers 1023, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Farmer, Roger E.A. & Waggoner, Daniel F. & Zha, Tao, 2011. "Minimal state variable solutions to Markov-switching rational expectations models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 2150-2166.
  10. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé & Martín Uribe, 2007. "Optimal simple and implementable monetary and fiscal rules," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2007-24, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  11. Roger E.A. Farmer & Tao Zha & Daniel F. Waggoner, 2009. "Understanding Markov-Switching Rational Expectations Models," NBER Working Papers 14710, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Ben S. Bernanke & Julio J. Rotemberg, 1997. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bern97-1, September.
  13. Gregory Erin Givens, 2009. "Estimating Central Bank Preferences under Commitment and Discretion," Working Papers 200905, Middle Tennessee State University, Department of Economics and Finance.
  14. Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2002. "An estimated dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model of the euro area," Working Paper Research 35, National Bank of Belgium.
  15. Pelin lbas, 2010. "Estimation of Monetary Policy Preferences in a Forward-Looking Model: A Bayesian Approach," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 6(3), pages 169-209, September.
  16. Francesco Bianchi, 2012. "Regime Switches, Agents’ Beliefs, and Post-World War II U.S. Macroeconomic Dynamics," Working Papers 12-04, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  17. Favero, Carlo A & Rovelli, Riccardo, 2003. " Macroeconomic Stability and the Preferences of the Fed: A Formal Analysis, 1961-98," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(4), pages 545-56, August.
  18. Jean Boivin & Marc P. Giannoni, 2006. "Has Monetary Policy Become More Effective?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 445-462, August.
  19. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," NBER Working Papers 6442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Peter N. Ireland, 2007. "Changes in the Federal Reserve's Inflation Target: Causes and Consequences," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(8), pages 1851-1882, December.
  21. Frank Schorfheide, 2011. "Estimation and Evaluation of DSGE Models: Progress and Challenges," NBER Working Papers 16781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 2004. "Were there regime switches in U.S. monetary policy?," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2004-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  23. Kim, C-J., 1991. "Dynamic Linear Models with Markov-Switching," Papers 91-8, York (Canada) - Department of Economics.
  24. Christoph Himmels & Tatiana Kirsanova, 2012. "Escaping Expectation Traps: How Much Commitment is Required?," Working Papers 2012_18, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  25. Debortoli, Davide & Nunes, Ricardo, 2010. "Fiscal policy under loose commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(3), pages 1005-1032, May.
  26. Blake, Andrew P. & Zampolli, Fabrizio, 2011. "Optimal policy in Markov-switching rational expectations models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 1626-1651, October.
  27. Svensson, L.E.O., 1995. "Optimal Inflation Targets, 'Conservative' Central Banks, and Linear Inflation Contracts," Papers 595, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  28. John F. Geweke, 1998. "Using simulation methods for Bayesian econometric models: inference, development, and communication," Staff Report 249, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  29. Frank Schorfheide, 2005. "Learning and Monetary Policy Shifts," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(2), pages 392-419, April.
  30. Ireland, Peter N., 2001. "Sticky-price models of the business cycle: Specification and stability," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 3-18, February.
  31. Galí, Jordi & Gertler, Mark, 1999. "Inflation Dynamics: A Structural Economic Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 2246, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  32. Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2005. "Time Varying Structural Vector Autoregressions and Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 821-852.
  33. 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.
  34. Amato, Jeffery D. & Laubach, Thomas, 2004. "Implications of habit formation for optimal monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 305-325, March.
  35. Levine, Paul & McAdam, Peter & Pearlman, Joseph G., 2007. "Quantifying and sustaining welfare gains from monetary commitment," Working Paper Series 0709, European Central Bank.
  36. Philip Liu & Haroon Mumtaz, 2011. "Evolving Macroeconomic Dynamics in a Small Open Economy: An Estimated Markov Switching DSGE Model for the UK," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 43(7), pages 1443-1474, October.
  37. Davide Debortoli & Ricardo Nunes, 2011. "Monetary regime switches and unstable objectives," International Finance Discussion Papers 1036, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  38. Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 2000. "Inflation Dynamics: A Structural Econometric Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7551, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  39. Eo, Yunjong, 2008. "Bayesian Analysis of DSGE Models with Regime Switching," MPRA Paper 13910, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 11 Feb 2009.
  40. Xiaoshan Chen & Ronald Macdonald, 2012. "Realized and Optimal Monetary Policy Rules in an Estimated Markov‐Switching DSGE Model of the United Kingdom," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44(6), pages 1091-1116, 09.
  41. Erceg, Christopher J. & Levin, Andrew T., 2003. "Imperfect credibility and inflation persistence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 915-944, May.
  42. Troy Davig & Eric M. Leeper, 2005. "Generalizing the Taylor Principle," NBER Working Papers 11874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  43. Leeper, Eric M., 1991. "Equilibria under 'active' and 'passive' monetary and fiscal policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 129-147, February.
  44. Castelnuovo, Efrem, 2012. "Policy Switch And The Great Moderation: The Role Of Equilibrium Selection," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(03), pages 449-471, June.
  45. Benati, Luca & Surico, Paolo, 2008. "VAR analysis and the Great Moderation," Working Paper Series 0866, European Central Bank.
  46. Campbell Leith & Ioana Moldovan & Raffaele Rossi, 2012. "Online Appendix to "Optimal Monetary Policy in a New Keynesian Model with Habits in Consumption"," Technical Appendices 09-154, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  47. Thomas Lubik & Frank Schorfheide, 2005. "A Bayesian Look at New Open Economy Macroeconomics," Economics Working Paper Archive 521, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  48. Iskrev, Nikolay, 2010. "Local identification in DSGE models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 189-202, March.
  49. Ben S. Bernanke & Julio J. Rotemberg, 1997. "Editorial in "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12"," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 1-6 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  50. Fuhrer, Jeffrey C & Moore, George R, 1995. "Monetary Policy Trade-offs and the Correlation between Nominal Interest Rates and Real Output," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 219-39, March.
  51. Pelin Ilbas, 2008. "Estimation of monetary policy preferences in a forward-looking model : a Bayesian approach," Working Paper Research 129, National Bank of Belgium.
  52. Troy A. Davig & Taeyoung Doh, 2008. "Monetary policy regime shifts and inflation persistence," Research Working Paper RWP 08-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  53. Soderlind, Paul, 1999. "Solution and estimation of RE macromodels with optimal policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 813-823, April.
  54. Ben S. Bernanke & Julio J. Rotemberg (ed.), 1997. "NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026252242x, December.
  55. J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1.
  56. Ozlale, Umit, 2003. "Price stability vs. output stability: tales of federal reserve administrations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(9), pages 1595-1610, July.
  57. Davide Debortoli & Aeimit Lakdawala, 2016. "How Credible Is the Federal Reserve? A Structural Estimation of Policy Re-optimizations," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 42-76, July.
  58. Jón Steinsson, 2000. "Optimal monetary policy in an economy with inflation persistence," Economics wp11, Department of Economics, Central bank of Iceland.
  59. Sims, Christopher A, 2002. "Solving Linear Rational Expectations Models," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 20(1-2), pages 1-20, October.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:edn:sirdps:480. 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: (Gina Reddie)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.