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Model Uncertainty And Monetary Policy

  • Richard Dennis

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Model uncertainty has the potential to change importantly how monetary policy should be conducted, making it an issue that central banks cannot ignore. In this paper, I use a standard new Keynesian business cycle model to analyze the behavior of a central bank that conducts policy with discretion while fearing that its model is misspeci?fied. My main results are as follows. First, policy performance can be improved if the discretionary central bank implements a robust policy. This important result is obtained because the central bank's desire for robustness directs it to assertively stabilize inflation, thereby mit- igating the stabilization bias associated with discretionary policymaking. In effect, a fear of model uncertainty can act similarly to a commitment mechanism. Second, exploiting the connection between robust control and uncertainty aversion, I show that the central bank's fear of model misspeci?cation leads it to forecast future outcomes under the be- lief that inflation (in particular) will be persistent and have large unconditional variance, raising the probability of extreme outcomes. Private agents, however, anticipating the policy response, make decisions under the belief that in?ation will be more closely sta- bilized, that is, more tightly distributed, than under rational expectations. Third, as a technical contribution, I show how to solve an important class of linear-quadratic robust Markov-perfect Stackelberg problems.

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Paper provided by Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University in its series CAMA Working Papers with number 2009-04.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:een:camaaa:2009-04
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  1. Abel, A.B., 1990. "Asset Prices Under Habit Formation And Catching Up With The Joneses," Weiss Center Working Papers 1-90, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research.
  2. Carl Walsh, 2001. "Speed Limit Policies: The Output Gap and Optimal Monetary Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 609, CESifo Group Munich.
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  4. Walsh, Carl E, 1995. "Optimal Contracts for Central Bankers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 150-67, March.
  5. Richard Dennis & Ulf Soderstrom, 2002. "How important is precommitment for monetary policy?," Working Paper Series 2002-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  6. Richard Dennis & Kai Leitemo & Ulf Söderström, 2006. "Methods for robust control," Working Paper Series 2006-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  7. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 1997. "The science of monetary policy: A new Keynesian perspective," Economics Working Papers 356, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Apr 1999.
  8. Richard Dennis & Federico Ravenna, 2007. "Learning and optimal monetary policy," Working Paper Series 2007-19, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  9. Onatski, Alexei & Stock, James H., 2002. "Robust Monetary Policy Under Model Uncertainty In A Small Model Of The U.S. Economy," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 85-110, February.
  10. Leitemo , Kai & Söderström , Ulf, 2005. "Robust monetary policy in a small open economy," Research Discussion Papers 20/2005, Bank of Finland.
  11. John C. Williams & Andrew T. Levin, 2003. "Robust Monetary Policy with Competing Reference Models," Computing in Economics and Finance 2003 291, Society for Computational Economics.
  12. Giordani, Paolo & Söderlind, Paul, 2002. "Solution of Macromodels with Hansen-Sargent Robust Policies: Some Extensions," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 499, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 15 May 2003.
  13. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J. & Wang, Neng E., 2002. "Robust Permanent Income And Pricing With Filtering," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 40-84, February.
  14. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-89, November.
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  18. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent & Thomas D. Tallarini Jr., 1997. "Robust Permanent Income and Pricing," Levine's Working Paper Archive 596, David K. Levine.
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