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The Boundaries of Central Bank Independence: Lessons from Unconventional Times

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  • Athanasios Orphanides

    (Professor of the Practice of Global Economics and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management (E-mail: athanasios.orphanides@mit.edu).)

Abstract

What institutional arrangements for an independent central bank with a price stability mandate promote good policy outcomes when unconventional policies become necessary? Unconventional monetary policy poses challenges. The large scale asset purchases needed to counteract the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates have uncomfortable fiscal and distributional consequences and require central banks to assume greater risks on their balance sheets. Lack of clarity on the precise definition of price stability, coupled with concerns about the legitimacy of large balance sheet expansions, hinders policy: It encourages the central bank to eschew the decisive quantitative easing needed to reflate the economy and instead to accommodate too-low inflation. The experience of the Bank of Japan's encounter with the zero lower bound suggests important benefits from a clear definition of price stability as a symmetric 2% goal for inflation, which the Bank of Japan adopted in 2013.

Suggested Citation

  • Athanasios Orphanides, 2018. "The Boundaries of Central Bank Independence: Lessons from Unconventional Times," IMES Discussion Paper Series 18-E-10, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.
  • Handle: RePEc:ime:imedps:18-e-10
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bank of Japan; Zero lower bound; Quantitative easing; Central bank independence; Price stability; Inflation target; Balance sheet risk;
    All these keywords.

    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
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • N15 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Asia including Middle East

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