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Targeting vs. instrument rules for monetary policy

  • Bennett T. McCallum
  • Edward Nelson

Svensson (2003) argues strongly that specific targeting rules*first order optimality conditions for a specific objective function and model*are normatively superior to instrument rules for the conduct of monetary policy. That argument is based largely upon four main objections to the latter plus a claim concerning the relative interest-instrument variability entailed by the two approaches. The present paper considers the four objections in turn, and advances arguments that contradict all of them. Then in the paper*s analytical sections, it is demonstrated that the variability claim is incorrect, for a neo-canonical model and also for a variant with one-period-ahead plans used by Svensson, providing that the same decision-making errors are relevant under the two alternative approaches. Arguments relating to general targeting rules and actual central bank practice are also included.

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File URL: http://research.stlouisfed.org/wp/2004/2004-011.pdf
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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2004-011.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Publication status: Published in Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, September/October 2005, 87(5), pp. 597-611
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2004-011
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  1. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: I. General Theory," Levine's Bibliography 506439000000000384, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Glenn Rudebusch & Lars E.O. Svensson, 1999. "Policy Rules for Inflation Targeting," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 203-262 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David Longworth & Brian O’Reilly, 2000. "The Monetary Policy Transmission Mechanism and Policy Rules in Canada," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 72, Central Bank of Chile.
  4. Henrik Jensen, 2002. "Targeting Nominal Income Growth or Inflation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 928-956, September.
  5. McCallum, Bennett T., 1999. "Issues in the design of monetary policy rules," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 23, pages 1483-1530 Elsevier.
  6. Svensson, Lars E. O., 1999. "Inflation targeting as a monetary policy rule," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 607-654, June.
  7. Bennett T. McCallum & Edward Nelson, 1998. "Performance of Operational Policy Rules in an Estimated Semi-Classical Structural Model," NBER Working Papers 6599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. McCallum, Bennett T. & Nelson, Edward, 1999. "Nominal income targeting in an open-economy optimizing model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 553-578, June.
  9. McCallum, Bennett T & Nelson, Edward, 2000. "Monetary Policy for an Open Economy: An Alternative Framework with Optimizing Agents and Sticky Prices," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 74-91, Winter.
  10. Lars E.O. Svensson, 2002. "What Is Wrong with Taylor Rules? Using Judgment in Monetary Policy through Targeting Rules," Working Papers 118, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  11. Charles Bean & Matthius Paustian & Adrian Penalver & Tim Taylor, 2010. "Monetary policy after the fall," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 267-328.
  12. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 2000. "Habit Formation in Consumption and Its Implications for Monetary-Policy Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 367-390, June.
  13. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 2001. "Optimal Monetary Policy in Open versus Closed Economies: An Integrated Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 248-252, May.
  14. Svensson, Lars E O & Woodford, Michael, 2004. "Implementing Optimal Policy Through Inflation-Forecast Targeting," CEPR Discussion Papers 4229, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. McCallum, Bennett T & Nelson, Edward, 2001. "Timeless Perspective Vs Discretionary Monetary Policy in Forward-Looking Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 2752, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Clarida, R. & Gali, J. & Gertler, M., 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," Working Papers 99-13, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  17. Peter Isard & Douglas Laxton & Ann-Charlotte Eliasson, 1999. "Simple Monetary Policy Rules Under Model Uncertainty," Computing in Economics and Finance 1999 841, Society for Computational Economics.
  18. 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.
  19. Svensson, L-E-O, 1996. "Inflation Forecast Targeting : Implementaing and Monitoring Inflation Targets," Papers 615, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  20. Andrew Levin & Volker Wieland & John C. Williams, 1998. "Robustness of Simple Monetary Policy Rules under Model Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 6570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Bullard, James & Mitra, Kaushik, 2002. "Learning about monetary policy rules," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1105-1129, September.
  22. Christopher Allsopp, 2002. "Macroeconomic Policy Rules in Theory and in Practice," Discussion Papers 10, Monetary Policy Committee Unit, Bank of England.
  23. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  24. Cecchetti, Stephen G, 2000. "Making Monetary Policy: Objectives and Rules," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 43-59, Winter.
  25. 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.
  26. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1, June.
  27. Dale W. Henderson & Warwick J. McKibbin, 1993. "A comparison of some basic monetary policy regimes for open economies: implications of different degrees of instrument adjustment and wage persistence," International Finance Discussion Papers 458, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  28. John C. Williams & Andrew T. Levin, 2003. "Robust Monetary Policy with Competing Reference Models," Computing in Economics and Finance 2003 291, Society for Computational Economics.
  29. Mccallum, Bennet T., 1988. "Robustness properties of a rule for monetary policy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 173-203, January.
  30. Denise Côté & Jean-Paul Lam & Ying Liu & Pierre St-Amant, 2002. "The Role of Simple Rules in the Conduct of Canadian Monetary Policy," Bank of Canada Review, Bank of Canada, vol. 2002(Spring), pages 27-35.
  31. Michael Woodford, 1999. "Commentary : how should monetary policy be conducted in an era of price stability?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 277-316.
  32. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: II. Applications," NBER Working Papers 9420, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. Tim Hampton, 2002. "The role of the Reserve Bank's macro model in the formation of interest rate projections," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, vol. 65, June.
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