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Structural uncertainty and central bank conservatism: the ignorant should keep their eyes shut

  • Michael Spagat
  • Joao Mauricio Rosal

We study the problem of a central bank whose policy actions simultaneously affect the information flow about its expectations-augmented Phillips curve and its reputation for toughness in fighting inflation. In an environment with an unknown relationship between inflation surprises and output, big inflation surprises yield big short-term output gains and a strong information flow. Yet optimal policy is very conservative because inflation surprises yield information that increases the volatility of both future inflationary expectations and inflation itself. In fact, the more there is that can be learned about the Phillips curve the less does optimal policy aim towards learning.

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Paper provided by Money Macro and Finance Research Group in its series Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2003 with number 93.

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Date of creation: 27 Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mmf:mmfc03:93
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  1. Robert J. Barro, 1986. "Reputation in a Model of Monetary Policy with Incomplete Information," NBER Working Papers 1794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Prescott, Edward C, 1972. "The Multi-Period Control Problem Under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 40(6), pages 1043-58, November.
  3. Balvers, Ronald J & Cosimano, Thomas F, 1994. "Inflation Variability and Gradualist Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(4), pages 721-38, October.
  4. George W. Evans & Seppo Honkapohja, 2003. "Expectations and the Stability Problem for Optimal Monetary Policies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(4), pages 807-824, October.
  5. Volker Wieland, 1999. "Monetary policy, parameter uncertainty and optimal learning," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-48, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Honkapohja, Seppo & Mitra, Kaushik, 2002. "Performance of monetary policy with internal central bank forecasting," Research Discussion Papers 3/2002, Bank of Finland.
  7. Backus, David & Driffill, John, 1985. "Inflation and Reputation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 530-38, June.
  8. Alan S. Blinder, 1999. "Central Banking in Theory and Practice," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522608, June.
  9. Ellison, Martin & Valla, Natacha, 2001. "Learning, uncertainty and central bank activism in an economy with strategic interactions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 153-171, August.
  10. Bertocchi, Graziella & Spagat, Michael, 1993. "Learning, experimentation, and monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 169-183, August.
  11. Hans Gersbach, 2003. "On the negative social value of central banks' knowledge transparency," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 91-102, 08.
  12. Jensen, Henrik, 2002. " Optimal Degrees of Transparency in Monetary Policymaking," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(3), pages 399-422, September.
  13. Grossman, Sanford J & Kihlstrom, Richard E & Mirman, Leonard J, 1977. "A Bayesian Approach to the Production of Information and Learning by Doing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 533-47, October.
  14. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  15. Caplin, Andrew & Leahy, John, 1996. "Monetary Policy as a Process of Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 689-702, September.
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