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Independent Central Banks: Some theoretical and empirical problems?

  • Peter Howells

    ()

    (UWE, Bristol)

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    In little more than twenty years, it has become widely accepted that the optimal design of monetary policy should include provision for a central bank that is independent of government influence. This is a remarkably short period of time for any idea in economics to become so widely-accepted. But there are problems. In this paper we show that there are many confusions and even some contradictions associated with central bank independence. To begin with, it is not entirely clear what it is exactly that central banks need to be independent of. Furthermore, there is confusion over the mechanisms whereby independence is supposed to deliver its benefits. The literature which is commonly said to provide the rationale for independence is often misunderstood and the evidence that independence does in fact enhance policy outcomes is extremely weak.

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    File URL: http://carecon.org.uk/DPs/0908.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2009
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    Paper provided by Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol in its series Working Papers with number 0908.

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    Length: 22 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:uwe:wpaper:0908
    Contact details of provider: Postal: 0117 328 3610
    Phone: 0117 328 3610
    Web page: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/bl/research/bristoleconomics.aspx
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    1. Bennett T. McCallum, 1996. "Crucial Issues Concerning Central Bank Independence," NBER Working Papers 5597, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Peter Stella & Ulrich H. Klueh, 2008. "Central Bank Financial Strength and Policy Performance; An Econometric Evaluation," IMF Working Papers 08/176, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Berger, Helge & de Haan, Jakob & Eijffinger, Sylvester C W, 2001. " Central Bank Independence: An Update of Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 3-40, February.
    4. Cukierman, Alex & Webb, Steven B & Neyapti, Bilin, 1992. "Measuring the Independence of Central Banks and Its Effect on Policy Outcomes," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 6(3), pages 353-98, September.
    5. Goodhart, Charles A E & Huang, Haizhou, 1998. "Time Inconsistency in a Model with Lags, Persistence, and Overlapping Wage Contracts," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(3), pages 378-96, July.
    6. David Backus & John Driffill, 1984. "Inflation and Reputation," Working Papers 560, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    7. James Forder, 2003. "'Independence' and the founding of the Federal Reserve," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 50(3), pages 297-310, 08.
    8. Forder, James, 1998. "Central Bank Independence--Conceptual Clarifications and Interim Assessment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(3), pages 307-34, July.
    9. Adam Posen, 1995. "Central bank independence and disinflationary credibility: a missing link?," Staff Reports 1, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    10. Charles Freedman, 1996. "What operating procedures should be adopted to maintain price stability? practical issues," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 241-285.
    11. Peter Stella, 2008. "Central Bank Financial Strength, Policy Constraints and Inflation," IMF Working Papers 08/49, International Monetary Fund.
    12. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1983. "Rules, Discretion and Reputation in a Model of Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 1079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Ottmar Issing, 2006. "Central Bank Independence - Economic and Political Dimensions," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 196(1), pages 66-76, April.
    14. Dai, Meixing & Sidiropoulos, Moïse, 2008. "Central bank's conservativeness and transparency," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 179-187, December.
    15. Acheson, Keith & Chant, John F, 1973. "Bureaucratic Theory and the Choice of Central Bank Goals," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 5(2), pages 637-55, May.
    16. Giuseppe Diana & MoÏse Sidiropoulos, 2006. "Central Bank Independence and the Cost of Disinflation: Why the Wage Contracts Length Matters?," International Advances in Economic Research, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 12(3), pages 287-297, August.
    17. Mourmouras, Iannis A., 1997. "On Wage Indexing, Policy Credibility and Inflation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 19-30, January.
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