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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. 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.
  2. Jody Overland & Christopher D. Carroll & David N. Weil, 2000. "Saving and Growth with Habit Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 341-355, June.
  3. Ben S. Bernanke & Alan S. Blinder, 1989. "The federal funds rate and the channels of monetary transmission," Working Papers 89-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  4. Bennett T. McCallum & Edward Nelson, 1998. "Performance of operational policy rules in an estimated semi-classical structural model," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Mar.
  5. Robert G. King & Alexander L. Wolman, 1996. "Inflation targeting in a St. Louis model of the 21st century," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 83-107.
  6. 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.
  7. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin, 1992. "Current Real-Business-Cycle Theories and Aggregate Labor-Market Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 430-50, June.
  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. 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.
  10. John M. Roberts, 1994. "Is inflation sticky?," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 152, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1998. "Policy rules for inflation targeting," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 98-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Bennett T. McCallum & Edward Nelson, 1997. "An Optimizing IS-LM Specification for Monetary Policy and Business Cycle Analysis," NBER Working Papers 5875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Kenneth D. West & David W. Wilcox, 1993. "Some Evidence on Finite Sample Behavior of an Instrumental Variables Estimator of the Linear Quadtratic Inventory Model," NBER Technical Working Papers 0139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  20. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1982. "Hall's consumption hypothesis and durable goods," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 417-425.
  21. 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.
  22. repec:fth:harver:1435 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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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