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Rational Ambiguity and Monitoring the Central Bank

  • Maria Demertzis

    (De Nederlandsche Bank)

  • Andrew Hughes Hallett

    (Vanderbilt University and CEPR)

In this paper we examine the consequences of having a Central Bank whose preferences are state contingent. This has variously been identified in the literature as a Central Bank that is "rationally inattentive", "risk averse", or "constructively ambiguous". The new feature in this paper is that we show how the private sector is likely to react. There are two possibilities: the public can form rational expectations and internalize the uncertainty about the Bank's preferences in full. Alternatively, and particularly if the process of internalization is costly, it can form a best guess regarding those preferences. This latter case implies a strategy of certainty equivalence. We examine the magnitude of the resulting error in inflation and output if the certainty equivalence approximation is used. Under all reasonable levels of uncertainty, the error turns out to be small. In that case, the certainty equivalence strategy would be "rational". But it involves trading off accepting a deflation bias against the cost of gathering the information needed to calculate the full rational expectations solution.

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Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0404.

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Date of creation: Feb 2004
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Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0404
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  1. M. Demertzis & A. Hughes Hallet, 2002. "Central Bank Transparency in Theory and Practice," WO Research Memoranda (discontinued) 704, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  2. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J & Tallarini, Thomas D, Jr, 1999. "Robust Permanent Income and Pricing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 873-907, October.
  3. Jordi Gali & Tommaso Monacelli, 2002. "Monetary Policy and Exchange Rate Volatility in a Small Open Economy," NBER Working Papers 8905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jon Faust & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1998. "Transparency and credibility: monetary policy with unobservable goals," International Finance Discussion Papers 605, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Faust, Jon & Svensson, Lars E O, 1999. "The Equilibrium Degree of Transparency and Control in Monetary Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 2195, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Demertzis, Maria & Hughes Hallett, Andrew, 2003. "Three Models of Imperfect Transparency in Monetary Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 4117, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Sibert, Anne, 2002. "Monetary policy with uncertain central bank preferences," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 1093-1109, June.
  8. Julio J. Rotemberg & Michael Woodford, 1998. "An Optimization-Based Econometric Framework for the Evaluation of Monetary Policy: Expanded Version," NBER Technical Working Papers 0233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1986. "A Theory of Ambiguity, Credibility, and Inflation under Discretion and Asymmetric Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1099-1128, September.
  10. Muscatelli, Anton, 1998. "Optimal Inflation Contracts and Inflation Targets with Uncertain Central Bank Preferences: Accountability through Independence?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(447), pages 529-42, March.
  11. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  12. Walsh, Carl E, 1999. "Announcements, Inflation Targeting and Central Bank Incentives," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 66(262), pages 255-69, May.
  13. Hallett, A. J. Hughes, 1984. "Optimal stockpiling in a high-risk commodity market the case of copper," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 211-238, November.
  14. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  15. Petra M. Geraats, 2002. "Central Bank Transparency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 532-565, November.
  16. Hughes Hallett, A. J., 1979. "Computing revealed preferences and limits to the validity of quadratic objective functions for policy optimization," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 27-32.
  17. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1973. "Some International Evidence on Output-Inflation Tradeoffs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 326-34, June.
  18. Hughes Hallett, A. J., 1984. "On alternative methods of generating risk sensitive decision rules," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 16(1-2), pages 37-44.
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