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Substitutability of Monetary Policy Instruments
AUTHORS: Doniger, Cynthia L.; Hebden, James; Pettit, Luke; Skaperdas, Arsenios
From Taylor's Rule to Bernanke's Temporary Price Level Targeting
Bernanke's strategies for integrating forward guidance into conventional instrument rules anticipate that effective lower bound (ELB) episodes may become part a regular occurrence and that monetary policy should recognize this likelihood (Bernanke (2017a); Bernanke (2017b)). Bernanke's first proposal is a form of flexible temporary price level targeting (TPLT), in which a lower-for-longer policy path is prescribed through a ?shadow rate?. This shadow rate accounts for cumulative shortfalls in inflation and output relative to exogenous trends, and the policy rate is kept at the ELB until the joint shortfall is made up. Bernanke's second proposal adds only the cumulative inflation shortfall since the beginning of an ELB episode directly to an otherwise standard Taylor rule. This cumulative shortfall in inflation from the 2 percent objective can be restated in terms of deviations of the price level from a price level target that increases at 2 percent annually. We evaluate the performance of these strategies, which we call Bernanke's TPLT rules, using a small version of the FRB/US model. We then optimize these rules, computing efficient policy frontiers that trace out the best (minimum) obtainable combinations of output and inflation volatility given the effective lower bound constraint on the policy rate. The results suggest that Bernanke's rules give better macroeconomic outcomes than most of the other rules considered in the literature (including Taylor (1993) and Taylor (1999)) by stabilizing inflation and unemployment during severe recessions. Under these TPLT strategies, when the policy rate is made more responsive to shortfalls in inflation, the the likelihood of below-target inflation occurring alongside high unemployment rates decreases. However, the probability of an overheated economy, with temporarily above-target inflation and low unemployment rate, increases.
AUTHORS: Hebden, James; Lopez-Salido, J. David
Learning and Misperception: Implications for Price-Level Targeting
Monetary policy strategies that target the price level have been advocated as a more effective way to provide economic stimulus in a deep recession when conventional monetary policy is limited by the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates. Yet, the effectiveness of these strategies depends on a central bank's ability to steer agents' expectations about the future path of the policy rate. We develop a flexible method of learning about the central bank's policy rule from observed interest rates that takes into account the limited informational content at the zero lower bound. When agents learn, switching from an inflation targeting to a price-level targeting strategy at the onset of a recession does not yield the desired stabilization benefits. These benefits only materialize after the policy rule has been in place for a sufficiently long time. Temporary price-level targeting strategies are likely to be much less effective than their permanent counterparts.
AUTHORS: Bodenstein, Martin; Hebden, James; Winkler, Fabian
Some Implications of Uncertainty and Misperception for Monetary Policy
When choosing a strategy for monetary policy, policymakers must grapple with mismeasurement of labor market slack, and of the responsiveness of price inflation to that slack. Using stochastic simulations of a small-scale version of the Federal Reserve Board?s principal New Keynesian macroeconomic model, we evaluate representative rule-based policy strategies, paying particular attention to how those strategies interact with initial conditions in the U.S. as they are seen today and with the current outlook. To do this, we construct a current relevant baseline forecast, one that is loosely constructed based on a recent FOMC forecast, and conduct our experiments around that baseline. We find the initial conditions and forecast that policymakers face affects decisions in a material way. The standard advice from the literature, that in the presence of mismeasurement of resource slack policymakers should substantially reduce the weight attached to those measures in setting the policy rate, and substitute toward a more forceful response to inflation, is overstated. We find that a notable response to the unemployment gap is typically beneficial, even if that gap is mismeasured. Even when the dynamics of inflation are governed by a 1970s-style Phillips curve, meaningful response to resource utilization is likely to turn out to be worthwhile, particularly in environments where resource utilization is thought to be tight to begin with and inflation is close to its target level.
AUTHORS: Erceg, Christopher J.; Hebden, James; Kiley, Michael T.; Lopez-Salido, J. David; Tetlow, Robert J.
Imperfect credibility and the zero lower bound on the nominal interest rate
When the nominal interest rate reaches its zero lower bound, credibility is crucial for conducting forward guidance. We determine optimal policy in a New Keynesian model when the central bank has imperfect credibility and cannot set the nominal interest rate below zero. In our model, an announcement of a low interest rate for an extended period does not necessarily reflect high credibility. Even if the central bank does not face a temptation to act discretionarily in the current period, policy commitments should not be postponed. In reality, central banks are often reluctant to allow a recovery path with output and inflation temporarily above target. From the perspective of our model such a policy reflects a low degree of credibility. We find increased forecast uncertainty in inflation and the output gap at the zero lower bound while interest rate uncertainty is reduced. Furthermore, misalignments between announced interest rate paths and market expectations are found to be best explained by lack of credibility.
AUTHORS: Hebden, James; Nunes, Ricardo; Bodenstein, Martin