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The information content of discount rate announcements: what's behind the announcement effect?

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  • Daniel L. Thornton

Abstract

A considerable volume of research shows that asset prices respond to changes in the Federal Reserve's discount rate. While several competing hypotheses have been advanced to explain the market's response to discount rate announcements, comparatively little effort has been made to differentiate among alternative hypotheses. The result is an abundance of evidence establishing that asset prices respond to discount rate announcements, but little if any agreement about why markets respond. This article attempts to fill a void in the literature by pointing out how competing hypotheses differ and by constructing tests explicitly designed to differentiate among competing explanations. The evidence suggest that the market's reaction to discount rate changes is purely an announcement effect, i.e., a reaction to new information contained in the announcement, that the direct effect of discount rate changes on market rates is nil, that the announcement effect is invariant to the Federal Reserve's operating procedure and that, generally speaking, changes in the discount rate do not signal a change in monetary policy. The announcement effect appears to vary with both the nature and extent of the information that the announcement of a discount rate change is believed to contain.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel L. Thornton, 1996. "The information content of discount rate announcements: what's behind the announcement effect?," Working Papers 1994-032, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:1994-032
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. V. Vance Roley & Rick Troll, 1984. "The impact of discount rate changes on market interest rates," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Jan, pages 27-39.
    2. Goodfriend, Marvin, 1991. "Interest rates and the conduct of monetary policy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 7-30, January.
    3. Smirlock, Michael J & Yawitz, Jess B, 1985. " Asset Returns, Discount Rate Changes, and Market Efficiency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1141-1158, September.
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    5. Michael J. Dueker, 1992. "The response of market interest rates to discount rate changes," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 78-91.
    6. Tinsley, Peter A, et al, 1982. "Policy Robustness: Specification and Simulation of a Monthly Money Market Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 14(4), pages 829-856, November.
    7. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin, 1992. "Liquidity Effects and the Monetary Transmission Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 346-353, May.
    8. James A. Clouse, 1994. "Recent developments in discount window policy," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Nov, pages 965-977.
    9. Benjamin M. Friedman & Kenneth N. Kuttner, 1993. "Economic Activity and the Short-term Credit Markets: An Analysis of Prices and Quantities," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 24(2), pages 193-284.
    10. Adrian R. Pagan & John C. Robertson, 1995. "Resolving the liquidity effect," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 33-54.
    11. Thornton, Daniel L, 1994. "Why Do T-Bill Rates React to Discount Rate Changes?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(4), pages 839-850, November.
    12. Kashyap, Anil K & Stein, Jeremy C & Wilcox, David W, 1993. "Monetary Policy and Credit Conditions: Evidence from the Composition of External Finance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 78-98, March.
    13. Raymond E. Lombra & Raymond G. Torto, 1977. "Discount Rate Changes and Announcement Effects," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 91(1), pages 171-176.
    14. Dallas S. Batten & Daniel L. Thornton, 1985. "The discount rate, interest rates and foreign exchange rates: an analysis with daily data," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Feb, pages 22-30.
    15. Waud, Roger N, 1970. "Public Interpretation of Federal Reserve Discount Rate Changes: Evidence on the 'Announcement Effect'," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 38(2), pages 231-250, March.
    16. Garfinkel, Michelle R & Thornton, Daniel L, 1995. "The Information Content of the Federal Funds Rate: Is It Unique?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(3), pages 838-847, August.
    17. Hakkio, Craig S. & Pearce, Douglas K., 1992. "Discount rate policy under alternative operating procedures: An empirical investigation," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 55-72.
    18. Wilbur John Coleman & Christian Gilles & Pamela Labadie, 1993. "Identifying monetary policy with a model of the federal funds rate," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 93-24, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Drakos, Konstantinos, 2001. "Monetary policy and the yield curve in an emerging market: the Greek case," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-262, September.
    2. Giorgio Valente, 2005. "US Monetary Policy Announcements and the Term Structure of Interest Rate Differentials: Evidence from Hong Kong and Singapore," Working Papers 092005, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
    3. Thornton, Daniel L, 2000. "Lifting the Veil of Secrecy from Monetary Policy: Evidence from the Fed's Early Discount Rate Policy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(2), pages 155-167, May.
    4. Thornton, Daniel L., 2004. "The Fed and short-term rates: Is it open market operations, open mouth operations or interest rate smoothing?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 475-498, March.
    5. Conover, C. Mitchell & Jensen, Gerald R. & Johnson, Robert R., 1999. "Monetary environments and international stock returns," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(9), pages 1357-1381, September.
    6. Choi, Woon Gyu, 1999. "Estimating the Discount Rate Policy Reaction Function of the Monetary Authority," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 379-401, July-Aug..
    7. Sazedj, Sharmin & Tavares, José, 2011. "Hope, Change, and Financial Markets: Can Obama's Words Drive the Market?," CEPR Discussion Papers 8713, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Manfred J.M. Neumann & Jens Weidmann, 1997. "The Information Content of German Discount Rate Changes," Macroeconomics 9706006, EconWPA.

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