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Limitations on the Effectiveness of Monetary Policy Forward Guidance in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

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  • Andrew T. Levin
  • Arunima Sinha

Abstract

We examine the effectiveness of forward guidance at the effective lower bound (ELB) in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Survey evidence underscores the myopia of professional forecasters at the initial stages of the pandemic and the extraordinary dispersion of their recent forecasts. Moreover, financial markets are now practically certain that U.S. short-term nominal interest rates will remain at the ELB for the next several years; consequently, forward guidance would have to refer to a much longer time horizon than in previous experience. To analyze the effects of these issues, we consider a canonical New-Keynesian model with three modifications: (1) expectations formation incorporates the mechanisms that have been proposed for addressing the forward guidance puzzle; (2) the central bank has imperfect credibility in making longer-horizon commitments regarding the path of monetary policy; and (3) the central bank may not have full knowledge of the true structure of the economy. In this framework, providing substantial near-term monetary stimulus hinges on making promises of relatively extreme overshooting of output and inflation in subsequent years, and hence forward guidance has only tenuous net benefits and may even be counterproductive.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew T. Levin & Arunima Sinha, 2020. "Limitations on the Effectiveness of Monetary Policy Forward Guidance in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic," NBER Working Papers 27748, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27748
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    3. Taisuke Nakata & Takeki Sunakawa, 2019. "Credible Forward Guidance," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2019-037, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    5. David Reifschneider & David Wilcox, 2019. "Average Inflation Targeting Would Be a Weak Tool for the Fed to Deal with Recession and Chronic Low Inflation," Policy Briefs PB19-16, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    6. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Pontus Braunerhjelm, 2022. "Rethinking stabilization policies; Including supply-side measures and entrepreneurial processes," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 58(2), pages 963-983, February.
    2. Batista, Quentin & Nakata, Taisuke & Sunakawa, Takeki, 2023. "Credible Forward Guidance," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 153(C).
    3. Luigi Bonatti & Andrea Fracasso & Roberto Tamborini, 2021. "Unconventional Policy Instruments and Transmission Channels:A State-Contingent Toolbox for the ECB," DEM Working Papers 2021/05, Department of Economics and Management.
    4. Lepetit, Antoine & Fuentes-Albero, Cristina, 2022. "The limited power of monetary policy in a pandemic," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 147(C).

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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

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