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Inflation Targeting: The Delegation and Co-Ordination of Monetary Policy

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  • S. G. Brian Henry

    () (London Business School)

  • Stephen G. Hall

    () (Imperial College)

  • James Nixon

    () (London Business School)

Abstract

We begin reviewing the standard Barro-Gordon model of inflation bias and considering the delegation of monetary policy to a more conservative central banker as suggested by Rogoff. We emphasise how inflation bias can be reduced, seemingly at the expense of increased stabilisation cost. We note the tendency to justify delegating monetary policy to an independent central bank based on these highly stylised analytical models of inflation. We emphasise the need to investigate empirically the implications of such a shift in policy regime without excluding important real-world complexities. An obvious omission from the Rogoff model is the possibility of more than one instrument of macroeconomic policy and their coordination. So we recover the model of Nordhaus, who considers the possibility of a non-cooperative game between the fiscal authority and an independent central bank. We note that the predictions from this model seem relevant to the recent experience of the UK. A substantial part of the debate on means available for authorities to reduce inflation concerns the importance expectations and credibility play in determining the output cost of any inflation reduction. With rational expectations, the optimal policy moves immediately to enforce a particular inflation target, an assumption bearing little relevance to reality. So we consider the case where agents "learn" about changes in monetary policy over time. Implementing this learning model is a major break with the empirical literature on the political economy of inflation control that has been dominated by the assumption of rational expectations. Recent theoretical work emphasises the importance of agents' "learning" over time to converge on the rational expectation, but with a lag. We favour this approach. Our empirical work focuses on two issues. First, we consider the implications of delegation monetary policy to a more "conservative" unitary authority with control over both fiscal and monetary policy. Our results support the conclusions of the theoretical models: delegating monetary policy to an institution with a longer time horizon is less likely to lead to an attempt to exploit the inflation-output trade off and so reduces the inflation bias in discretionary policy. Second, we consider the operation of stabilisation policy in a stochastic environment. Using open loop optimal control, we are able to model monetary and fiscal policy in terms of a 'game' played between the central bank and a fiscal authority, where the two 'players' may have very different objectives. The central bank is concerned with inflation while the fiscal authority is concerned with growth and the public sector deficit. We are thus able to consider whether the gain from the reduced inflation bias is outweighed by the inability to coordinate monetary and fiscal policy in response to shocks.

Suggested Citation

  • S. G. Brian Henry & Stephen G. Hall & James Nixon, 1999. "Inflation Targeting: The Delegation and Co-Ordination of Monetary Policy," Computing in Economics and Finance 1999 842, Society for Computational Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf9:842
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Froyen, Richard T. & Waud, Roger N., 1995. "Central bank independence and the output-inflation tradeoff," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 137-149, May.
    2. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
    3. Andreas Fischer, 1996. "Central bank independence and sacrifice ratios," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 5-18, January.
    4. Adam S. Posen, 1995. "Declarations Are Not Enough: Financial Sector Sources of Central Bank Independence," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1995, Volume 10, pages 253-274 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Clive Briault & Andrew Haldane & Mervyn King, 1996. "Independence and Accountability," Bank of England working papers 49, Bank of England.
    6. Bean, Charles, 1998. "The New UK Monetary Arrangements: A View from the Literature," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(451), pages 1795-1809, November.
    7. Julia Darby & Simon Wren-Lewis, 1993. "Is There a Cointegrating Vector for UK Wages?," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 20(1/2), pages 87-115, January.
    8. Walsh, Carl E, 1995. "Optimal Contracts for Central Bankers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 150-167, March.
    9. repec:sae:niesru:v:161:y::i:1:p:91-110 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
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