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The Use and Meaning of Words in Central Banking: Inflation Targeting, Credibility, and Transparency

  • Benjamin M. Friedman
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    Inflation targeting offers the promise of introducing to monetary policy a logic and consistency that some central banks' deliberations sorely missed in the past. At least in today's inherited monetary policymaking context, however, inflation targeting also serves two further objectives that are of more questionable import, and while seemingly contradictory, the two are ultimately related: By forcing participants in the monetary policy debate to conduct the discussion in a vocabulary pertaining solely to inflation, inflation targeting fosters over time the atrophication of concerns for real outcomes. In the meanwhile, inflation targeting hides from public view whatever concerns for real outcomes policymakers do maintain. Both objectives are understandable. Whether either is desirable on economic grounds is an open question. Neither is very consistent with the role of monetary policy in a democracy.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8972.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8972.

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    Date of creation: May 2002
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    Publication status: published as Mizen, Paul (ed.) Essays in honour of Charles Goodhart. Volume 1. Central banking, monetary theory and practice. Cheltenham, U.K. and Northampton, MA: Elgar, 2003.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8972
    Note: EFG ME
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    6. Roberts, John M, 1995. "New Keynesian Economics and the Phillips Curve," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 975-84, November.
    7. Shaghil Ahmed & John H. Rogers, 1998. "Inflation and the great ratios: long-term evidence from the U.S," International Finance Discussion Papers 628, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Guy Debelle & Stanley Fischer, 1994. "How independent should a central bank be?," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 38, pages 195-225.
    9. Michael Woodford, 1994. "Nonstandard Indicators for Monetary Policy: Can Their Usefulness Be Judged from Forecasting Regressions?," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy, pages 95-115 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. King, Mervyn, 1997. "Changes in UK monetary policy: Rules and discretion in practice," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 81-97, June.
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