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Monetary Policy in a Data-Rich Environment

  • Ben S. Bernanke
  • Jean Boivin

Most empirical analyses of monetary policy have been confined to frameworks in which the Federal Reserve is implicitly assumed to exploit only a limited amount of information, despite the fact that the Fed actively monitors literally thousands of economic time series. This article explores the feasibility of incorporating richer information sets into the analysis, both positive and normative, of Fed policymaking. We employ a factor-model approach, developed by Stock and Watson (1999a,b), that permits the systematic information in large data sets to be summarized by relatively few estimated factors. With this framework, we reconfirm Stock and Watson's result that the use of large data sets can improve forecast accuracy, and we show that this result does not seem to depend on the use of finally revised (as opposed to 'real-time') data. We estimate policy reaction functions for the Fed that take into account its data-rich environment and provide a test of the hypothesis that Fed actions are explained solely by its forecasts of inflation and real activity. Finally, we explore the possibility of developing an 'expert system' that could aggregate diverse information and provide benchmark policy settings.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8379.

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Date of creation: Jul 2001
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Publication status: published as Bernanke, Ben S. and Jean Boivin. "Monetary Policy In A Data-Rich Environment," Journal of Monetary Economics, 2003, v50(3,Apr), 525-546.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8379
Note: EFG ME
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  1. Clarida, R. & Gali, J. & Gertler, M., 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," Working Papers 99-13, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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  5. Thomas J. Sargent & Christopher A. Sims, 1977. "Business cycle modeling without pretending to have too much a priori economic theory," Working Papers 55, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 1997. "Monetary policy rules and macroeconomic stability: Evidence and some theory," Economics Working Papers 350, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 1999.
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  9. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1998. "Monetary Policy Shocks: What Have We Learned and to What End?," NBER Working Papers 6400, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. David H. Romer & Christina D. Romer, 2000. "Federal Reserve Information and the Behavior of Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 429-457, June.
  11. Eric Ghysels & Norman R. Swanson & Myles Callan, 2002. "Monetary Policy Rules with Model and Data Uncertainty," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 239-265, October.
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  13. Mario Forni & Marc Hallin & Marco Lippi & Lucrezia Reichlin, 2000. "The Generalized Dynamic-Factor Model: Identification And Estimation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 540-554, November.
  14. Stock, James H & Watson, Mark W, 2002. "Macroeconomic Forecasting Using Diffusion Indexes," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(2), pages 147-62, April.
  15. Danny Quah & Thomas J. Sargent, 1993. "A Dynamic Index Model for Large Cross Sections," CEP Discussion Papers dp0132, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  16. Forni, Mario & Lippi, Marco, 2000. "The Generalized Dynamic Factor Model: Representation Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 2509, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1, May.
  18. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1989. "New Indexes of Coincident and Leading Economic Indicators," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4, pages 351-409 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Eric M. Leeper & Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 1996. "What Does Monetary Policy Do?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 1-78.
  20. Forni, Mario & Reichlin, Lucrezia, 1996. "Dynamic Common Factors in Large Cross-Sections," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 27-42.
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  22. Nicoletta Batini & Andrew G Haldane, 1999. "Forward-looking rules for monetary policy," Bank of England working papers 91, Bank of England.
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