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Optimal commitment in an open economy : Credibility vs. flexibility

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  • Eijffinger, S.C.W.

    (Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management)

  • Schaling, E.

Abstract

The theoretical argument for central bank independence is based on the idea that even if the government represents people's preferences over inflation and output it has an incentive to renege from prearranged plans to gain a short run boost to output. This incentive leads to higher than desired inflation. One solution to this credibility problem is to give control of monetary policy to an independent central bank that is more averse to inflation than society. Central bank independence thus reduces society's credibility problem but this may be at the expense of less flexible countercyclical monetary policy. The aim of this paper is to find the correct balance between credibility and flexibility, ie the optimal degree of central bank independence. The first part of the paper sets out an open economy model and identifies some macroeconomic factors that influence the optimal degree of independence. It finds that the optimal degree of independence increases when; 1) the NAIRU is higher, 2) the benefits of unanticipated inflation are greater, 3) society is less inflation-averse, 4) productivity shocks have smaller variance, 5) the real exchange rate has less variability, 6) the economy is less open. The second part of the paper estimates the relationship between these six factors and measures of central bank independence for 19 industrial countries using a latent variables estimation technique. It finds that, in general, the actual degree of independence is related to these six factors and so the institutional arrangements in most countries are close to the optimum. The main exceptions are Germany and Switzerland - that seem to have an excessively high degree of independence - and Australia, Norway, Sweden and the UK - which have a lower than optimal degree of independence.
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  • Eijffinger, S.C.W. & Schaling, E., 1995. "Optimal commitment in an open economy : Credibility vs. flexibility," Other publications TiSEM d6bf01ec-595f-43ad-a0b7-9, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiutis:d6bf01ec-595f-43ad-a0b7-9fcfb4d66aeb
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    Cited by:

    1. Andy Haldane & Bennett McCallum & Chris Salmon, 1996. "Base Money Rules in the UK," Bank of England working papers 45, Bank of England.
    2. Charles Nolan & Eric Schaling, 1996. "Monetary Policy Uncertainty and Central Bank Accountability," Bank of England working papers 54, Bank of England.
    3. Marco Bianchi & Gylfi Zoega, 1998. "Unemployment persistence: does the size of the shock matter?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(3), pages 283-304.
    4. Temple, Jonathan, 2002. "Openness, Inflation, and the Phillips Curve: A Puzzle," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(2), pages 450-468, May.
    5. Alexander Mihailov, 2007. "Does Instrument Independence Matter under the Constrained Discretionof an Inflation Targeting Goal? Lessons from UK Taylor Rule Empirics," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2006 95, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
    6. Matthew B Canzoneri & Charles Nolan & Anthony Yates, 1996. "Feasible Mechanisms for Achieving Monetary Stability: a Comparison of Inflation Targeting and the ERM," Bank of England working papers 52, Bank of England.
    7. Prasanna Gai, 1996. "International Bank Lending to LDCs - an Information-Based Approach," Bank of England working papers 43, Bank of England.
    8. Clive Briault & Andrew Haldane & Mervyn A. King, 1997. "Independence and Accountability," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: Iwao Kuroda (ed.), Towards More Effective Monetary Policy, chapter 10, pages 299-340, Palgrave Macmillan.
    9. Spencer Dale & Marco Rossi, 1996. "A Market for Intra-day Funds: Does it Have Implications for Monetary Policy?," Bank of England working papers 46, Bank of England.
    10. Marco Bianchi, 1996. "A Comparison of Methods for Seasonal Adjustment of the Monetary Aggregates," Bank of England working papers 44, Bank of England.
    11. Francis Breedon, 1996. "Why do the LIFFE and DTB bund futures contracts trade at different prices?," Bank of England working papers 57, Bank of England.

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