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Rules Verus Discretion: Assessing the Debate Over the Conduct of Monetary Policy

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  • John B. Taylor

Abstract

This paper reviews the state of the debate over rules versus discretion in monetary policy, focusing on the role of economic research in this debate. It shows that proposals for policy rules are largely based on empirical research using economic models. The models demonstrate the advantages of a systematic approach to monetary policy, though proposed rules have changed and generally improved over time. Rules derived from research help central bankers formulate monetary policy as they operate in domestic financial markets and the global monetary system. However, the line of demarcation between rules and discretion is difficult to establish in practice which makes contrasting the two approaches difficult. History shows that research on policy rules has had an impact on the practice of central banking. Economic research also shows that while central bank independence is crucial for good monetary policy making, it has not been enough to prevent swings away from rules-based policy, implying that policy-makers might consider enhanced reporting about how rules are used in monetary policy. The paper also shows that during the past year there has been an increased focus on policy rules in implementing monetary policy in the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • John B. Taylor, 2018. "Rules Verus Discretion: Assessing the Debate Over the Conduct of Monetary Policy," Economics Working Papers 18102, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hoo:wpaper:18102
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carl E. Walsh, 2016. "Goals versus Rules as Central Bank Performance Measures," Book Chapters,in: Carl E. Walsh (ed.), Central Bank Governance & Oversight Reform, chapter 3 Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
    2. Engel, Charles & West, Kenneth D., 2006. "Taylor Rules and the Deutschmark: Dollar Real Exchange Rate," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(5), pages 1175-1194, August.
    3. John B. Taylor & Volker Wieland, 2012. "Surprising Comparative Properties of Monetary Models: Results from a New Model Database," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 800-816, August.
    4. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 2000. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(1), pages 147-180.
    5. Colin Gray, 2013. "Responding to a Monetary Superpower: Investigating the Behavioral Spillovers of U.S. Monetary Policy," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 41(2), pages 173-184, June.
    6. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "Monetary policy evaluation with noisy information," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 605-631, April.
    7. Pier Francesco Asso & George A. Kahn & Robert Leeson, 2007. "The Taylor rule and the transformation of monetary policy," Research Working Paper RWP 07-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    8. Gabriel Fagan & James R. Lothian & Paul D. Mcnelis, 2013. "Was The Gold Standard Really Destabilizing?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(2), pages 231-249, March.
    9. David H. Papell & Alex Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy & Ruxandra Prodan, 2016. "Policy Rule Legislation in Practice," Book Chapters,in: David H. Papell & Alex Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy & Ruxandra Prodan (ed.), Central Bank Governance & Oversight Reform, chapter 2 Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
    10. Scott Sumner, 2014. "Nominal GDP Targeting: A Simple Rule to Improve Fed Performance," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 34(2), pages 315-337, Spring/Su.
    11. Milton Friedman & John B. Taylor (ed.), 2017. "Milton Friedman on Freedom," Books, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, number 4.
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    Keywords

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    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions

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