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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. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1, December.
  2. Lars E. O. Svensson & Michael Woodford, 2003. "Implementing Optimal Policy through Inflation-Forecast Targeting," NBER Working Papers 9747, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Andrew Levin & Volker Wieland & John C. Williams, 1998. "Robustness of simple monetary policy rules under model uncertainty," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Ann-Charlotte Eliasson & Peter Isard & Douglas Laxton, 1999. "Simple Monetary Policy Rules Under Model Uncertainty," IMF Working Papers 99/75, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Bennett T. McCallum & Edward Nelson, 1999. "Performance of Operational Policy Rules in an Estimated Semiclassical Structural Model," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 15-56 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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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  10. 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.
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  13. Bennett T. McCallum & Edward Nelson, 2001. "Monetary Policy for an Open Economy: An Alternative Framework with Optimizing Agents and Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 8175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. 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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  17. Svensson, Lars E.O., 1997. "Inflation Forecast Targeting: Implementing and Monitoring Inflation Targets," Seminar Papers 615, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  18. Bennett T. McCallum & Edward Nelson, 2004. "Timeless perspective vs. discretionary monetary policy in forward-looking models," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 43-56.
  19. 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.
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  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. McCallum, B.T. & Nelson, E., 1998. "Nominal Income Targeting in an Open-Economy Optimizing Model," Papers 644, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Christopher Allsopp, 2002. "Macroeconomic Policy Rules in Theory and in Practice," Discussion Papers 10, Monetary Policy Committee Unit, Bank of England.
  31. 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.
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