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Central Bank Policy Rules: Conceptual Issues and Practical Considerations

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  • Stephen G. Cecchetti

Abstract

The design of rules for central bank policy has been a subject of increasing interest to many monetary economists. The purpose of this essay is first to present an analytical structure in which a policymaker is presumed to formulate a rule based on the solution to an optimal control problem, and then to examine a number of issues that are germane to the current debate on the nature of such rules. These issues include the implication for policymaking of the slope of the output-inflation variability frontier, the importance of various types of uncertainty, the consequences of a zero nominal interest rate floor, and the possible reasons for interest rate smoothing. Although this essay is intended to raise, rather than resolve, key questions concerning policy rules, it does offer fairly compelling evidence on one point. This concerns the potential consequences of the move by many central banks toward some form of price-level or inflation targeting. In adopting this approach, central banks are implicitly changing the relative importance of output and inflation variability in their objective function. The robustness of the policy rule, however, may depend on the shape of the output-inflation variability trade-off. The data indicate that this trade-off is extremely steep: small decreases in inflation variability are associated with very large increases in output variability. This finding suggests that pure inflation targeting may have very undesirable side effects.

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  • Stephen G. Cecchetti, 1997. "Central Bank Policy Rules: Conceptual Issues and Practical Considerations," NBER Working Papers 6306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6306 Note: ME
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lars E. O. Svensson, 1996. "Price Level Targeting vs. Inflation Targeting: A Free Lunch?," NBER Working Papers 5719, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles, 1996. "The Effects of Monetary Policy Shocks: Evidence from the Flow of Funds," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 16-34, February.
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    7. Ball, Laurence, 1999. "Efficient Rules for Monetary Policy," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(1), pages 63-83, April.
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    11. 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.
    12. Frederic S. Mishkin & Adam S. Posen, 1997. "Inflation targeting: lessons from four countries," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Aug, pages 9-110.
    13. Matthew D. Shapiro & David W. Wilcox, 1996. "Mismeasurement in the Consumer Price Index: An Evaluation," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 93-154 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlo Altavilla, 2003. "Assessing monetary rules performance across EMU countries," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(2), pages 131-151.
    2. Peersman, Gert & Smets, Frank, 1999. "The Taylor Rule: A Useful Monetary Policy Benchmark for the Euro Area?," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(1), pages 85-116, April.
    3. Rotondi, Zeno, 2000. "Time consistent monetary policy reconsidered: may we have a deflationary bias too?," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 4, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
    4. Frank Smets, 2002. "Output gap uncertainty: Does it matter for the Taylor rule?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 113-129.
    5. Catherine Bac, 2001. "Arbitrage entre fluctuations de l'inflation et de l'activité au niveau de la zone "euro"," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 150(4), pages 47-58.
    6. Svensson, Lars E O, 1999. "Price Stability as a Target for Monetary Policy: Defining and Maintaining Price Stability," CEPR Discussion Papers 2196, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Lars E. O. Svensson, 2005. "Targeting versus instrument rules for monetary policy: what is wrong with McCallum and Nelson?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Sep, pages 613-626.
    8. T.C.Y. Kam & G.C. Lim, 2001. "Interest Rate Smoothing and Inflation-Output Variabilityin a Small Open Economy," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 817, The University of Melbourne.
    9. Gert Peersman & Frank Smets, 1999. "Uncertainty and the Taylor rule in a simple model of the Euro-area economy," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    10. Svensson, Lars E. O., 1999. "Inflation targeting as a monetary policy rule," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 607-654, June.
    11. Lars E. O. Svensson, 2003. "What Is Wrong with Taylor Rules? Using Judgment in Monetary Policy through Targeting Rules," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(2), pages 426-477, June.
    12. Ghrissi Mhamdi & Mounir Smida & Ramzi Farhani, 2014. "Indicators of core inflation: Case of Tunisia," Post-Print halshs-01138432, HAL.
    13. Svensson, Lars E. O., 2002. "Inflation targeting: Should it be modeled as an instrument rule or a targeting rule?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 771-780, May.
    14. Lars E.O. Svensson, 2004. "Targeting Rules vs. Instrument Rules for Monetary Policy: What is Wrong with McCallum and Nelson?," NBER Working Papers 10747, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    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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