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Designing a simple loss function for the Fed: does the dual mandate make sense?

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Variable and high rates of price inflation in the 1970s and 1980s led many countries to delegate the conduct of monetary policy to \"instrument-independent\" central banks and to give their central banks a clear mandate to pursue price stability and instrument independence to achieve it. Advances in academic research supported a strong focus on price stability as a means to enhance the independence and credibility of monetary policymakers. An overwhelming majority of these central banks also adopted an explicit inflation target to further strengthen credibility and facilitate accountability. One exception is the U.S. Federal Reserve, which since 1977 has been assigned the so-called \"dual mandate,\" which requires it to \"promote maximum employment in a context of price stability.\" Although the Fed has established credibility for the long-run inflation target, an important question is whether its heavy focus on resource utilization can be justified. The authors' reading of the academic literature is that resource utilization should be assigned a small weight relative to inflation under the reasonable assumption that the underlying objective of monetary policy is to maximize the welfare of households inhabiting the economy. Woodford (1998) showed that the objective function of households in a basic New Keynesian sticky-price model could be approximated as a (purely) quadratic function in inflation and the output gap, with the weights determined by the specific features of the economy. A potential drawback with the large literature that followed is that it focused on relatively simple calibrated (or partially estimated) models. In this paper the authors revisit this issue within the context of an estimated medium-scale model of the U.S. economy, specifically the Smets and Wouters (2007) model.

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  • Davide Debortoli & Jinill Kim & Jesper Lindé & Ricardo Nunes, 2015. "Designing a simple loss function for the Fed: does the dual mandate make sense?," Working Papers 15-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:15-3
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    1. Wieland, Volker & Binder, Michael & Lieberknecht, Philipp & Quintana, Jorge, 2017. "Model Uncertainty in Macroeconomics: On the Implications of Financial Frictions," CEPR Discussion Papers 12013, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Bodenstein, Martin & Zhao, Junzhu, 2020. "Employment, wages and optimal monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 77-96.
    3. Ragna Alstadheim & Øistein Røisland, 2017. "When Preferences for a Stable Interest Rate Become Self‐Defeating," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 49(2-3), pages 393-415, March.
    4. Martin Seneca, 2020. "Risk Shocks and Monetary Policy in the New Normal," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 16(6), pages 185-232, December.
    5. Gelain, Paolo & Ilbas, Pelin, 2017. "Monetary and macroprudential policies in an estimated model with financial intermediation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 164-189.
    6. Tayler, William J. & Zilberman, Roy, 2016. "Macroprudential regulation, credit spreads and the role of monetary policy," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 144-158.
    7. Górajski, Mariusz & Kuchta, Zbigniew, 2023. "Coordination and non-coordination risks of monetary and macroprudential authorities: A robust welfare analysis," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    8. Verona, Fabio & Martins, Manuel M.F. & Drumond, Inês, 2017. "Financial shocks, financial stability, and optimal Taylor rules," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 54(PB), pages 187-207.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    central banks’ objectives; simple loss function; monetary policy design; Smets-Wouters model;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination

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