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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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. George A. Kahn, 2012. "The Taylor Rule and the Practice of Central Banking," Book Chapters, in: Evan F. Koenig & Robert Leeson & George A. Kahn (ed.), The Taylor Rule and the Transformation of Monetary Policy, chapter 3, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
    2. John B. Taylor & Volker Wieland, 2012. "Surprising Comparative Properties of Monetary Models: Results from a New Model Database," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 800-816, August.
    3. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 2000. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(1), pages 147-180.
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    5. Michael T. Belongia & Peter N. Ireland, 2015. "Interest Rates and Money in the Measurement of Monetary Policy," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(2), pages 255-269, April.
    6. Gabriel Fagan & James R. Lothian & Paul D. Mcnelis, 2013. "Was The Gold Standard Really Destabilizing?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(2), pages 231-249, March.
    7. Pier Francesco Asso & Robert Leeson, 2012. "Monetary Policy Rules - From Adam Smith to John Taylor," Book Chapters, in: Evan F. Koenig & Robert Leeson & George A. Kahn (ed.), The Taylor Rule and the Transformation of Monetary Policy, chapter 2, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
    8. David Beckworth & Joshua R. Hendrickson, 2020. "Nominal GDP Targeting and the Taylor Rule on an Even Playing Field," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 52(1), pages 269-286, February.
    9. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "Monetary policy evaluation with noisy information," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 605-631, April.
    10. Engel, Charles & West, Kenneth D., 2006. "Taylor Rules and the Deutschmark: Dollar Real Exchange Rate," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(5), pages 1175-1194, August.
    11. Pier Francesco Asso & George A. Kahn & Robert Leeson, 2007. "The Taylor rule and the transformation of monetary policy," Research Working Paper RWP 07-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    12. Scott Sumner, 2014. "Nominal GDP Targeting: A Simple Rule to Improve Fed Performance," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 34(2), pages 315-337, Spring/Su.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    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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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Javier G. Gómez-Pineda, 2019. "The natural interest rate in Latin America," Borradores de Economia 1067, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    3. 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.
    4. Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, Alex & Papell, David H. & Prodan, Ruxandra, 2021. "Policy Rules and Economic Performance," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    5. 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.

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    More about this item

    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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