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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. Richard Dennis & Ulf Soderstrom, 2002. "How important is precommitment for monetary policy?," Working Paper Series 2002-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. Carl Walsh, 2003. "Speed Limit Policies: The Output Gap and Optimal Monetary Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 265-278, March.
  3. 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.
  4. Mark Gertler & Jordi Gali & Richard Clarida, 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
  5. Michael Woodford, 2005. "Robustly optimal monetary policy with near-rational expectations," Discussion Papers 0506-13, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  6. Willem H. Buiter & Richard C. Marston, 1985. "International Economic Policy Coordination," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number buit85-1, May.
  7. Levin, Andrew T. & Williams, John C., 2003. "Robust monetary policy with competing reference models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 945-975, July.
  8. Gilles Oudiz & Jeffrey Sachs, 1985. "International Policy Coordination in Dynamic Macroeconomic Models," NBER Chapters, in: International Economic Policy Coordination, pages 274-330 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles Evans, 2001. "Nominal rigidities and the dynamic effects of a shock to monetary policy," Working Paper 0107, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  10. Smets, Frank & Wouters, Raf, 2002. "An estimated stochastic dynamic general equilibrium model of the euro area," Working Paper Series 0171, European Central Bank.
  11. A. Abel, 2010. "Asset prices under habit formation and catching up with the Jones," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1395, David K. Levine.
  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. 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.
  14. Leitemo, Kai & Söderström, Ulf, 2005. "Robust Monetary Policy in a Small Open Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 5071, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Onatski, Alexei & Williams, Noah, 2002. "Modeling model uncertainty," Working Paper Series 0169, European Central Bank.
  16. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J & Tallarini, Thomas D, Jr, 1999. "Robust Permanent Income and Pricing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 873-907, October.
  17. 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.
  18. Walsh, Carl E, 1995. "Optimal Contracts for Central Bankers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 150-67, March.
  19. Richard Dennis & Kai Leitemo & Ulf Soderstrom, 2006. "Monetary Policy in a Small Open Economy with a Preference for Robustness," Working Papers 316, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  20. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:111-44 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. 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.
  22. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
  23. Tillmann, Peter, 2009. "The stabilization bias and robust monetary policy delegation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 730-734, December.
  24. Richard Dennis & Kai Leitemo & Ulf Soderstrom, 2006. "Methods for Robust Control," Working Papers 307, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  25. Gino Cateau, 2006. "Guarding Against Large Policy Errors under Model Uncertainty," Working Papers 06-13, Bank of Canada.
  26. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J. & Turmuhambetova, Gauhar & Williams, Noah, 2006. "Robust control and model misspecification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 128(1), pages 45-90, May.
  27. Anderson, Evan W. & McGrattan, Ellen R. & Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 1996. "Mechanics of forming and estimating dynamic linear economies," Handbook of Computational Economics, in: H. M. Amman & D. A. Kendrick & J. Rust (ed.), Handbook of Computational Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-252 Elsevier.
  28. Richard Dennis & Federico Ravenna, 2007. "Learning and optimal monetary policy," Working Paper Series 2007-19, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  29. Hans M. Amman & David A. Kendrick, . "Computational Economics," Online economics textbooks, SUNY-Oswego, Department of Economics, number comp1, December.
  30. 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.
  31. repec:cup:macdyn:v:6:y:2002:i:1:p:40-84 is not listed on IDEAS
  32. Richard Dennis, 2001. "Optimal policy in rational-expectations models: new solution algorithms," Working Paper Series 2001-09, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  33. Epstein, Larry G & Wang, Tan, 1994. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Under Knightian Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 283-322, March.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
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