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Central Bank Independence and the `Free Lunch Puzzle': A New Perspective


  • Ali al-Nowaihi

    (University of Leicester)

  • Paul Levine

    (University of Surrey)

  • Alex Mandilaras

    (University of Surrey)


A new perspective is provided on a puzzle that has emerged from the empirical lit- erature suggesting that government-independent central banks provide a `free lunch': lower in°ation is apparently achieved at no cost in terms of greater output variance. We assess the various explanations provided by the theoretical literature. After revis- iting the free lunch puzzle and con¯rming the empirical importance of open-economy effects, we develop a Rogoff-style delegation model that combines the latter with po- litical monetary cycle e®ects. We show that if all countries delegate monetary policy to government independent banks, as economies become more integrated then a low inflation, higher output variance trade-off re-emerges.

Suggested Citation

  • Ali al-Nowaihi & Paul Levine & Alex Mandilaras, 2006. "Central Bank Independence and the `Free Lunch Puzzle': A New Perspective," School of Economics Discussion Papers 0806, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
  • Handle: RePEc:sur:surrec:0806

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. al-Nowaihi, Ali & Levine, Paul, 1998. "Can political monetary cycles be avoided?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 525-545, October.
    2. Mandilaras, Alexandros & Levine, Paul, 2001. "Public Debt and Inflation: The Role of Inflation-Sensitive Instruments," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 69(0), pages 1-21, Supplemen.
    3. Eijffinger, Sylvester C W & Hoeberichts, Marco, 1998. "The Trade off between Central Bank Independence and Conservativeness," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(3), pages 397-411, July.
    4. Beetsma, Roel & Bovenberg, A Lans, 2003. "Political Shocks, Public Debt and the Design of Monetary and Fiscal Institutions," CEPR Discussion Papers 3753, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. David Romer, 1993. "Openness and Inflation: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(4), pages 869-903.
    6. repec:fth:tilbur:99108 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Andrew Hughes Hallett & Diana N. Weymark, 2005. "Independence Before Conservatism: Transparency, Politics and Central Bank Design," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 6(1), pages 1-21, February.
    8. Alesina, Alberto & Summers, Lawrence H, 1993. "Central Bank Independence and Macroeconomic Performance: Some Comparative Evidence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 25(2), pages 151-162, May.
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    13. Missale, Alessandro & Blanchard, Olivier Jean, 1994. "The Debt Burden and Debt Maturity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 309-319, March.
    14. Currie, David & Levine, Paul & Pearlman, Joseph, 1996. "The Choice of 'Conservative' Bankers in Open Economies: Monetary Regime Options for Europe," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(435), pages 345-358, March.
    15. Marta Campillo & Jeffrey A. Miron, 1997. "Why Does Inflation Differ across Countries?," NBER Chapters,in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 335-362 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item


    central bank independence; open economy; political uncertainty;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination

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