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Does the Federal Reserve possess an exploitable informational advantage?

  • Joe Peek
  • Eric S. Rosengren
  • Geoffrey M. B. Tootell

This paper provides evidence that the Federal Reserve has an informational advantage over the public that can be exploited to improve activist monetary policy. The informational advantage derives from the Fed?s role as a bank supervisor, and it is shown to be of sufficient duration to be effective in guiding activist monetary policy, even in simple rational expectations models. The informational superiority does not result from the Fed having earlier access to publicly released data about the financial condition of banks. Instead, this informational advantage is generated by confidential supervisory knowledge about troubled, non-publicly traded banks. As a result, this information can remain confidential for an extended period of time because these banks do not have an incentive to fully disclose publicly the extent of their financial troubles, and, since they are not publicly traded, are not required to do so. The improvement in forecasts using this confidential information is both statistically significant and economically important, providing a potential justification for activist monetary policy.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 99-8.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:99-8
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  2. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1996. "Federal Reserve Private Information and the Behavior of Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 5692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1981. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural-Rate Model," NBER Working Papers 0807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Stephen K. McNees, 1992. "A forward-looking monetary policy reaction function: continuity and change," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Nov, pages 3-13.
  11. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1990. "Liquidity and interest rates," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 237-264, April.
  12. Cook, Timothy & Hahn, Thomas, 1989. "The effect of changes in the federal funds rate target on market interest rates in the 1970s," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 331-351, November.
  13. Anil K. Kashyap & Jeremy C. Stein, 1994. "Monetary Policy and Bank Lending," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy, pages 221-261 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Fischer, Stanley, 1977. "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 191-205, February.
  15. Joe Peek & Eric S. Rosengren & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell, 1999. "Is Bank Supervision Central To Central Banking?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 629-653, May.
  16. 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.
  17. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  18. Sack, Brian, 2000. "Does the fed act gradually? A VAR analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 229-256, August.
  19. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1987. "The Optimal Collection of Seigniorage: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 2270, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 1999. "Is the Fed too timid? Monetary policy in an uncertain world," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 99-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  21. Jeremy C. Stein & Anil K. Kashyap, 2000. "What Do a Million Observations on Banks Say about the Transmission of Monetary Policy?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 407-428, June.
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  25. Taylor, John B, 1979. "Staggered Wage Setting in a Macro Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 108-13, May.
  26. Alex Cukierman, 1989. "Why does the Fed smooth interest rates?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, pages 111-157.
  27. Sargent, Thomas J & Wallace, Neil, 1975. ""Rational" Expectations, the Optimal Monetary Instrument, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 241-54, April.
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