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John C. Williams

1 July 2001
WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 68
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Abstract
We investigate the performance of forecast-based monetary policy rules using five macroeconomic models that reflect a wide range of views on aggregate dynamics. We identify the key characteristics of rules that are robust to model uncertainty: such rules respond to the one-year ahead inflation forecast and to the current output gap, and incorporate a substantial degree of policy inertia. In contrast, rules with longer forecast horizons are less robust and are prone to generating indeterminacy. In light of these results, we identify a robust benchmark rule that performs very well in all five models over a wide range of policy preferences
JEL Code
E31 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Price Level, Inflation, Deflation
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
E58 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Central Banks and Their Policies
E61 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook→Policy Objectives, Policy Designs and Consistency, Policy Coordination
27 April 2004
WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 337
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Abstract
We develop an estimated model of the U.S. economy in which agents form expectations by continually updating their beliefs regarding the behavior of the economy and monetary policy. We explore the effects of policymakers' misperceptions of the natural rate of unemployment during the late 1960s and 1970s on the formation of expectations and macroeconomic outcomes. We find that the combination of monetary policy directed at tight stabilization of unemployment near its perceived natural rate and large real-time errors in estimates of the natural rate uprooted heretofore quiescent inflation expectations and destabilized the economy. Had monetary policy reacted less aggressively to perceived unemployment gaps, inflation expectations would have remained anchored and the stagflation of the 1970s would have been avoided. Indeed, we find that less activist policies would have been more effective at stabilizing both inflation and unemployment. We argue that policymakers, learning from the experience of the 1970s, eschewed activist policies in favor of policies that concentrated on the achievement of price stability, contributing to the subsequent improvements in macroeconomic performance of the U.S. economy.
JEL Code
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
Network
International research forum on monetary policy
13 June 2007
WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 764
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Abstract
We examine the performance and robustness properties of monetary policy rules in an estimated macroeconomic model in which the economy undergoes structural change and where private agents and the central bank possess imperfect knowledge about the true structure of the economy. Policymakers follow an interest rate rule aiming to maintain price stability and to minimize fluctuations of unemployment around its natural rate but are uncertain about the economy's natural rates of interest and unemployment and how private agents form expectations. In particular, we consider two models of expectations formation: rational expectations and learning. We show that in this environment the ability to stabilize the real side of the economy is significantly reduced relative to an economy under rational expectations with perfect knowledge. Furthermore, policies that would be optimal under perfect knowledge can perform very poorly if knowledge is imperfect. Efficient policies that take account of private learning and misperceptions of natural rates call for greater policy inertia, a more aggressive response to inflation, and a smaller response to the perceived unemployment gap than would be optimal if everyone had perfect knowledge of the economy. We show that such policies are quite robust to potential misspecification of private sector learning and the magnitude of variation in natural rates.
JEL Code
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
Network
ECB conference on monetary policy and imperfect knowledge