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An Optimising Model for Monetary Policy Analysis: Can Habit Formation Help?

  • Jeffrey C. Fuhrer

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

In earlier work (Fuhrer 1997a), I document what I view as the failure of standard models of representative consumer and firm behaviour to replicate the dynamics that we observe in the aggregate data. In essence, these models fail because they imply that both inflation and real variables must ‘jump’ in response to monetary policy (and other) shocks, in contrast to identified VAR evidence that shows a gradual, ‘hump shaped’ response. This paper discusses a rigorous empirical standard for monetary policy models. The motivation for this discussion is that, if one wishes to conduct welfare analysis, one must be reasonably confident that the model provides a good approximation to underlying consumer and firm behaviour over the monetary policy horizon, i.e. in the short run. The paper examines a specific alternative to the standard consumption model in which consumers’ utility depends in part on current consumption relative to past consumption. This formulation of habit formation allows one to nest habit formation, life-cycle consumption, and Campbell and Mankiw’s ‘rule of thumb’ consumers within a more general model. The empirical tests developed in the paper show that one can reject the hypothesis of no habit formation with tremendous confidence. This result suggests that models that are unable to produce a hump-shaped response will be strongly rejected empirically.

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Paper provided by Reserve Bank of Australia in its series RBA Research Discussion Papers with number rdp9812.

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Date of creation: Sep 1998
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Handle: RePEc:rba:rbardp:rdp9812
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  1. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1989. "Consumption, Income and Interest Rates: Reinterpreting the Time Series Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4, pages 185-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Christina D. Romer and David H. Romer., 1989. "Does Monetary Policy Matter? A New Test in the Spirit of Friedman and Schwartz," Economics Working Papers 89-107, University of California at Berkeley.
  3. Bennett T. McCallum & Edward Nelson, 1999. "Performance of Operational Policy Rules in an Estimated Semiclassical Structural Model," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 15-56 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1994. "Identification and the effects of monetary policy shocks," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 94-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Glenn Rudebusch & Lars E.O. Svensson, 1999. "Policy Rules for Inflation Targeting," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 203-262 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Ray C. Fair, 1992. "The Cowles Commission Approach, Real Business Cycle Theories, and New Keynesian Economics," NBER Working Papers 3990, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  8. Fuhrer, Jeff & Moore, George, 1992. "Monetary policy rules and the indicator properties of asset prices," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 303-336, April.
  9. Roberts, John M., 1997. "Is inflation sticky?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 173-196, July.
  10. Ben Bernanke, 1990. "The Federal Funds Rate and the Channels of Monetary Transnission," NBER Working Papers 3487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521474009 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Bennett T. McCallum & Edward Nelson, . "An Optimizing IS-LM Specification for Monetary Policy and Business Cycle Analysis," GSIA Working Papers 1997-71, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  13. Campbell, John Y & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1990. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(3), pages 265-79, July.
  14. King, Robert G. & Plosser, Charles I. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1988. "Production, growth and business cycles : I. The basic neoclassical model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 195-232.
  15. King, Robert G. & Wolman, Alexander L., 2013. "Inflation Targeting in a St. Louis Model of the 21st Century," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 543-574.
  16. Kenneth D. West & David W. Wilcox, 1993. "Some evidence on finite sample behavior of an instrumental variables estimator of the linear quadratic inventory model," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 93-29, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1990. "Current real business cycle theories and aggregate labor market fluctuations," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 90, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  18. Christopher D. Carroll & Jody Overland & David N. Weil, 1995. "Saving and growth with habit formation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  19. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521479394 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  21. repec:fth:harver:1435 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1982. "Hall's consumption hypothesis and durable goods," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 417-425.
  23. Campbell, John Y. & Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1991. "The response of consumption to income : A cross-country investigation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 723-756, May.
  24. Julio Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1997. "An Optimization-Based Econometric Framework for the Evaluation of Monetary Policy," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 297-361 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Fuhrer, Jeffrey C & Moore, George R, 1995. "Monetary Policy Trade-offs and the Correlation between Nominal Interest Rates and Real Output," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 219-39, March.
  26. King, Robert G & Plosser, Charles I, 1984. "Money, Credit, and Prices in a Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 363-80, June.
  27. 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.
  28. Ermini, Luigi, 1989. "Some New Evidence on the Timing of Consumption Decisions and on Their Generating Process," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(4), pages 643-50, November.
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