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Targeting vs. Instrument Rules for Monetary Policy

  • Bennett T. McCallum
  • Edward Nelson

Svensson (JEL, 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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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10612.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
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Publication status: published as McCallum, Bennett T. and Edward Nelson. "Targeting Versus Instrument Rules For Monetary Policy," FRB St. Louis - Review, 2005, v87(5,Sep/Oct), 597-611.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10612
Note: EFG ME
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  1. Bennett T. McCallum & Edward Nelson, 1998. "Performance of operational policy rules in an estimated semi-classical structural model," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
  2. McCallum, Bennett T. & Nelson, Edward, 1998. "Nominal Income Targeting in an Open-Economy Optimizing Model," Seminar Papers 644, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  3. 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.
  4. Svensson, Lars E. O., 1997. "Inflation forecast targeting: Implementing and monitoring inflation targets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 1111-1146, June.
  5. Henderson, Dale W. & McKibbin, Warwick J., 1993. "A comparison of some basic monetary policy regimes for open economies: implications of different degrees of instrument adjustment and wage persistence," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 221-317, December.
  6. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 1997. "The science of monetary policy: A new Keynesian perspective," Economics Working Papers 356, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Apr 1999.
  7. Lars E. O. Svensson, 2003. "What is Wrong with Taylor Rules? Using Judgment in Monetary Policy through Targeting Rules," NBER Working Papers 9421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. McCallum, Bennett T & Nelson, Edward, 2001. "Monetary Policy for an Open Economy: An Alternative Framework with Optimizing Agents and Sticky Prices," CEPR Discussion Papers 2756, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
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  13. Christopher Allsopp, 2002. "Macroeconomic Policy Rules in Theory and in Practice," Discussion Papers 10, Monetary Policy Committee Unit, Bank of England.
  14. Lars E.O. Svensson & Michael Woodford, 2004. "Implementing Optimal Policy through Inflation-Forecast Targeting," NBER Chapters, in: The Inflation-Targeting Debate, pages 19-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Jensen, Henrik, 1999. "Targeting Nominal Income Growth or Inflation?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2341, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. 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.
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  20. 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.
  21. Marc P. Giannoni & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Rules: I. General Theory," Levine's Bibliography 506439000000000384, UCLA Department of Economics.
  22. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1.
  23. 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.
  24. Svensson, Lars E.O. & Rudebusch , Glenn, 1998. "Policy Rules for Inflation Targeting," Seminar Papers 637, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  25. Charles R. Bean & Matthias 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  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. 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.
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  33. 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.
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