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Model uncertainty and monetary policy

  • Richard Dennis

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 misspecified. I begin by showing how to solve linear-quadratic robust Markov-perfect Stackelberg problems where the leader fears that private agents form expectations using the misspecified model. Next, I exploit the connection between robust control and uncertainty aversion to present and interpret my results in terms of the distorted beliefs held by the central bank, households, and firms. My main results are as follows. First, the central bank's pessimism leads it to forecast future outcomes using an expectations operator that, relative to rational expectations, assigns greater probability to extreme inflation and consumption outcomes. Second, the central bank's skepticism about its model causes it to move forcefully to stabilize inflation following shocks. Finally, even in the absence of misspecification, policy loss can be improved if the central bank implements a robust policy.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Paper Series with number 2007-09.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2007-09
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  1. 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.
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  3. J. Tetlow, Robert & von zur Muehlen, Peter, 2001. "Robust monetary policy with misspecified models: Does model uncertainty always call for attenuated policy?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 25(6-7), pages 911-949, June.
  4. Abel, Andrew B, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 38-42, May.
  5. Dennis, Richard & Leitemo, Kai & Söderström, Ulf, 2009. "Methods for robust control," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1604-1616, August.
  6. Richard Dennis & Federico Ravenna, 2007. "Learning and optimal monetary policy," Working Paper Series 2007-19, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  7. Woodford, Michael, 2005. "Robustly optimal monetary policy with near-rational expectations," CFS Working Paper Series 2007/12, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
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  11. Leitemo, Kai & Söderström, Ulf, 2005. "Robust Monetary Policy in a Small Open Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 5071, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Lars Hansen & Thomas Sargent & Thomas Tallarini, . "Robust Permanent Income and Pricing," GSIA Working Papers 1997-51, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  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. Buiter,Willem H. & Marston,Richard C., 1986. "International Economic Policy Coordination," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521337809, November.
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  17. repec:bof:bofrdp:2005_020 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Lars E.O. Svensson & Noah M. Williams, 2007. "Bayesian and Adaptive Optimal Policy under Model Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 13414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Dennis, Richard, 2007. "Optimal Policy In Rational Expectations Models: New Solution Algorithms," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 31-55, February.
  20. Dennis, Richard & Soderstrom, Ulf, 2006. "How Important Is Precommitment for Monetary Policy?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(4), pages 847-872, June.
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  26. Richard Dennis & Kai Leitemo & Ulf Söderström, 2007. "Monetary policy in a small open economy with a preference for robustness," Working Paper Series 2007-04, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  27. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:40-84 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Smets, Frank & Wouters, Raf, 2002. "An estimated stochastic dynamic general equilibrium model of the euro area," Working Paper Series 0171, European Central Bank.
  29. Giannoni, Marc P., 2002. "Does Model Uncertainty Justify Caution? Robust Optimal Monetary Policy In A Forward-Looking Model," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 111-144, February.
  30. Walsh, Carl E, 1995. "Optimal Contracts for Central Bankers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 150-67, March.
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  32. Gino Cateau, 2006. "Guarding Against Large Policy Errors under Model Uncertainty," Staff Working Papers 06-13, Bank of Canada.
  33. Backus, David & Driffill, John, 1986. "The Consistency of Optimal Policy in Stochastic Rational Expectations Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 124, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  36. Kenneth Rogoff, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-1189.
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