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Rules Versus 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.

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  • John B. Taylor, 2017. "Rules Versus Discretion: Assessing the Debate Over the Conduct of Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 24149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24149
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    1. Time Consistency: A Primer
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2018-01-29 13:46:41

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    2. Tavlas, George S., 2021. "A Reconsideration Of The Doctrinal Foundations Of Monetary Policy Rules: Fisher Versus Chicago," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(1), pages 55-82, March.
    3. Pontus Braunerhjelm, 2022. "Rethinking stabilization policies; Including supply-side measures and entrepreneurial processes," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 58(2), pages 963-983, February.
    4. Javier G. Gómez-Pineda, 2019. "The natural interest rate in Latin America," Borradores de Economia 1067, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    5. Yan Jiang & Yaping Xu & Shengsheng Li, 2022. "How Does Monetary Policy Uncertainty Influence Firms’ Dynamic Adjustment of Capital Structure," SAGE Open, , vol. 12(1), pages 21582440211, January.
    6. Shodipe Oladimeji T. & Shobande Olatunji Abdul, 2021. "Monetary Policy Dynamics in the United States," Open Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 14-30, January.
    7. Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, Alex & Papell, David H. & Prodan, Ruxandra, 2021. "Policy Rules and Economic Performance," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    8. Pierre Jaillet & Benoît Mojon, 2018. "Les politiques d’objectifs des banques centrales en perspective," Revue française d'économie, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(3), pages 21-61.
    9. Joseph Agyapong, 2021. "Application of Taylor Rule Fundamentals in Forecasting Exchange Rates," Economies, MDPI, vol. 9(2), pages 1-27, June.
    10. Maritta Paloviita & Markus Haavio & Pirkka Jalasjoki & Juha Kilponen, 2021. "What Does "Below, but Close to, 2 Percent" Mean? Assessing the ECB's Reaction Function with Real-Time Data," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 17(2), pages 125-169, June.
    11. Geoffrey Wood, 2022. "MONEY AND THE RULE OF LAW: GENERALITY AND PREDICTABILITY IN MONETARY INSTITUTIONS by Peter J. Boettke | Alexander William Salter | Daniel J Smith," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(1), pages 198-200, February.
    12. Begoña Domínguez, 0. "Sustaining Ramsey plans with one-period bonds," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 0, pages 1-24.
    13. Francisco Louçã & Alexandre Abreu & Gonçalo Pessa Costa, 2021. "Disarray at the headquarters: Economists and Central bankers tested by the subprime and the COVID recessions [Forward guidance without common knowledge]," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(2), pages 273-296.
    14. Begoña Domínguez, 2020. "Sustaining Ramsey plans with one-period bonds," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 70(2), pages 387-410, September.

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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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