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Is inflation targeting best-practice monetary policy?

  • Jon Faust
  • Dale W. Henderson

We describe the inflation targeting framework (ITF) and compare it against hypothetical best-practice based on optimization. The core requirements of the ITF are an explicit long-run inflation goal and a commitment to transparency in policymaking. Advocates and practitioners of the ITF have made many contributions to clear goal setting and communication by central banks. However, we contend that ITF communication policies both as advocated and practiced often have some elements that either obfuscate or, in some cases, explicitly contradict the dictates of optimization in a stabilization-policy paradigm. In this paradigm, the central bank has an objective function that places weight on both inflation and output-gap stabilization and faces a conventional (exploitable) Phillips-curve trade-off. We point out some problems that the ITF communication policy may generate in this setting. Our analysis leads us to make four suggestions for communication policy intended to help central banks avoid these problems.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 807.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:807
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  1. Lars E O Svensson, 1996. "Inflation Forecast Targeting: Implementing and Monitoring Inflation Targets," Bank of England working papers 56, Bank of England.
  2. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2000. "The quest for prosperity without inflation," Working Paper Series 0015, European Central Bank.
  3. Lars E.O. Svensson & Michael Woodford, 2004. "Implementing Optimal Policy through Inflation-Forecast Targeting," NBER Chapters, in: The Inflation-Targeting Debate, pages 19-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bennett T. McCallum & Edward Nelson, . "Performance of Operational Policy Rules in an Estimated Semi-Classical Structural Model," GSIA Working Papers 1998-22, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  5. Frederic S. Mishkin, 1999. "International Experiences with Different Monetary Policy Regimes," NBER Working Papers 6965, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. David H. Romer & Christina D. Romer, 2000. "Federal Reserve Information and the Behavior of Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 429-457, June.
  9. Svensson, Lars E O, 1998. "Inflation Targeting as a Monetary Policy Rule," CEPR Discussion Papers 1998, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Svensson, L.E.O., 1995. "Optimal Inflation Targets, 'Conservative' Central Banks, and Linear Inflation Contracts," Papers 595, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  11. Edwin M. Truman, 2003. "Inflation Targeting in the World Economy," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 346, December.
  12. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  13. Stein, Jeremy C, 1989. "Cheap Talk and the Fed: A Theory of Imprecise Policy Announcements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 32-42, March.
  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.
  15. Maurice Obstfeld, 1995. "Models of Currency Crises with Self-Fulfilling Features," NBER Working Papers 5285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. McCallum, Bennett T., 1997. "Crucial issues concerning central bank independence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 99-112, June.
  17. Aoki, Kosuke, 2001. "Optimal monetary policy responses to relative-price changes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 55-80, August.
  18. Julio Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1997. "An Optimization-Based Econometric Framework for the Evaluation of Monetary Policy," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 297-361 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1993. "Designing institutions for monetary stability," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 53-84, December.
  20. Professor Lars E O Svensson, 2001. "Independent review of the operation of monetary policy in New Zealand," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, vol. 64, March.
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