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Jel Classification:E52 

Working Paper
Understanding the Aspects of Federal Reserve Forward Guidance
This paper studies the effects of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) forward guidance language. I estimate two policy surprises at FOMC meetings: a change in the current federal funds rate and an orthogonal change in the expected path of the federal funds rate. From February 2000 to June 2003, the FOMC only gave forward guidance about risks to the economic outlook, and a surprise increase in the expected federal funds rate path had expansionary effects. This is consistent with models of central bank information effects, where a positive economic outlook causes private agents to revise up their expectations for the economy. From August 2003 to May 2006, the FOMC also gave forward guidance about policy inclinations, and a surprise increase in the federal funds rate path had contractionary effects. These results are consistent with standard macroeconomic models of forward guidance. Overall, the effects of forward guidance depend on the FOMC?s choice to use one or both of the economic-outlook and policy-inclination aspects of forward guidance.
AUTHORS: Lunsford, Kurt Graden
DATE: 2018-11-07

Working Paper
Frequency Dependence in a Real-Time Monetary Policy Rule
We estimate a monetary policy rule for the US allowing for possible frequency dependence?i.e., allowing the central bank to respond differently to more persistent innovations than to more transitory innovations, in both the unemployment rate and the inflation rate. Our estimation method uses real-time data in these rates?as did the FOMC?and requires no a priori assumptions on the pattern of frequency dependence or on the nature of the processes generating either the data or the natural rate of unemployment. Unlike other approaches, our estimation method allows for possible feedback in the relationship. Our results convincingly reject linearity in the monetary policy rule, in the sense that we find strong evidence for frequency dependence in the key coefficients of the central bank's policy rule: i.e., the central bank's federal funds rate response to a fluctuation in either the unemployment or the inflation rate depended strongly on the persistence of this fluctuation in the recently observed (real-time) data. These results also provide useful insights into how the central bank's monetary policy rule has varied between the Martin-Burns-Miller and the Volcker-Greenspan time periods.
AUTHORS: Verbrugge, Randal; Tsang, Kwok Ping; Ashley, Richard
DATE: 2014-11-19

Working Paper
All Fluctuations Are Not Created Equal: The Differential Roles of Transitory versus Persistent Changes in Driving Historical Monetary Policy
The historical analysis of FOMC behavior using estimated simple policy rules requires the specification of either an estimated natural rate of unemployment or an output gap. But in the 1970s, neither output gap nor natural rate estimates appear to guide FOMC deliberations. This paper uses the data to identify the particular implicit unemployment rate gap (if any) that is consistent with FOMC behavior. While its ability appears to have improved over time, our results indicate that, both before the Volcker period and through the Bernanke period, the FOMC distinguished persistent movements in the unemployment rate from other movements; implicitly such movements were treated as an intermediate target, one that departs substantially from conventional estimates of the natural rate. We further investigate historical FOMC responses to inflation fluctuations. In this regard, FOMC behavior changed in the Volcker-Greenspan-Bernanke period: its response to the inflation rate became much stronger, and it focused more intensely on very persistent movements in this variable. Our results shed light on the ?Great Inflation? experience of the 1970s, and are consistent with the view that political pressures effectively limited the FOMC response to the buildup of inflation. They also suggest new directions for DSGE modeling.
AUTHORS: Verbrugge, Randal; Ashley, Richard; Tsang, Kwok Ping
DATE: 2018-10-12

Working Paper
Drifting Inflation Targets and Monetary Stagflation
This paper revisits the phenomenon of stagflation. Using a standard New Keynesian dynamic, stochastic general equilibrium model, we show that stagflation from monetary policy alone is a very common occurrence when the economy is subject to both deviations from the policy rule and a drifting inflation target. Once the inflation target is fixed, the incidence of stagflation in the baseline model is essentially eliminated. In contrast with several other recent papers that have focused on the connection between monetary policy and stagflation, we show that while high uncertainty about monetary policy actions can be conducive to the occurrence of stagflation, imperfect information more generally is not a requisite channel to generate stagflation.
AUTHORS: Knotek, Edward S.; Khan, Shujaat
DATE: 2014-11-03

Working Paper
A Theory of Intrinsic Inflation Persistence
We propose a novel theory of intrinsic inflation persistence by introducing trend inflation and variable elasticity of demand in a model with staggered price and wage setting. Under nonzero trend inflation, the variable elasticity generates intrinsic persistence in inflation through a measure of price dispersion stemming from staggered price setting. It also introduces intrinsic persistence in wage inflation under staggered wage setting, which affects price inflation. With the theory we show that inflation exhibits a persistent, hump-shaped response to a monetary policy shock. We also show that a credible disinflation leads to a gradual decline in inflation and a fall in output, and lower trend inflation reduces inflation persistence, as observed around the time of the Volcker disinflation.
AUTHORS: Van Zandweghe, Willem; Kurozumi, Takushi
DATE: 2019-08-29

Working Paper
Monetary Policy and Macroeconomic Stability Revisited
A large literature has established that the Fed? change from a passive to an active policy response to inflation led to US macroeconomic stability after the Great Inflation of the 1970s. This paper revisits the literature?s view by estimating a generalized New Keynesian model using a full-information Bayesian method that allows for equilibrium indeterminacy and adopts a sequential Monte Carlo algorithm. The model empirically outperforms canonical New Keynesian models that confirm the literature?s view. Our estimated model shows an active policy response to inflation even during the Great Inflation. More importantly, a more active policy response to inflation alone does not suffice for explaining the US macroeconomic stability, unless it is accompanied by a change in either trend inflation or policy responses to the output gap and output growth. This extends the literature by emphasizing the importance of the changes in other aspects of monetary policy in addition to its response to inflation.
AUTHORS: Kurozumi, Takushi; Van Zandweghe, Willem; Hirose, Yasuo
DATE: 2019-06-27

Working Paper
A New Look at Historical Monetary Policy and the Great Inflation through the Lens of a Persistence-Dependent Policy Rule
The origins of the Great Inflation, a central 20th century U.S. macroeconomic event, remain contested. Prominent explanations are poor forecasts or deficient activity gap estimates. An alternative view: the FOMC was unwilling to fight inflation, perhaps due to political pressures. Our findings, based on a novel approach, support the latter view. New econometric tools allow us to credibly identify the particular activity gap, if any, in use. Persistence-dependent unemployment (gap) responses in the 1970s were essentially the same pre- and post-Volcker. Conversely, FOMC behavior vis--vis inflation?also persistence-dependent?changed markedly starting with Volcker, consistent with (though not proving) the political pressures view.
AUTHORS: Tsang, Kwok Ping; Ashley, Richard; Verbrugge, Randal
DATE: 2019-07-18

Working Paper
Thinking Outside the Box: Do SPF Respondents Have Anchored Inflation Expectations?
Despite the stability of the median 10-year inflation expectations in the Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF) near 2 percent, we show that not a single SPF respondent?s expectations have been anchored at the target since the Federal Open Market Committee?s (FOMC) enactment of an inflation target in January 2012, or even since 2015. However, we find significant evidence for ?delayed anchoring,? or a move toward being anchored, particularly after the federal funds rate lifted off in December 2015.
AUTHORS: Binder, Carola; Janson, Wesley; Verbrugge, Randal
DATE: 2019-08-20

Working Paper
Forward Guidance under Imperfect Information: Instrument Based or State Contingent?
I study the optimal type of forward guidance in a flexible-price economy in which both the private sector and the central bank are subject to imperfect information about the aggregate state of the economy. In this case, forward guidance changes the private sector?s expectations about both future monetary policy and the state of the economy. I study two types of forward guidance. The first type is instrument based, in which case the central bank commits to a value of the policy instrument. The second type is state contingent, in which case the central bank reveals its imperfect information and commits to a policy response rule. The key message is that forward guidance allows the central bank to reduce ex-ante price fluctuations by making the optimal trade-off between price deviations after the actual shock and after the noise shock. However, this benefit comes with a cost under the instrument-based forward guidance; that is, since firms perfectly know the change in monetary policy and prices are fully flexible, the real output level becomes independent of monetary policy. Consequently, while state-contingent forward guidance guarantees ex-ante welfare improvement, instrument-based forward guidance improves ex-ante welfare only if the central bank?s information is sufficiently precise.
AUTHORS: Jia, Chengcheng
DATE: 2019-11-05

Working Paper
The Informational Effect of Monetary Policy and the Case for Policy Commitment
I explore how asymmetric information between the central bank and the private sector changes the optimal conduct of monetary policy. I build a New Keynesian model in which private agents have imperfect information about underlying shocks, while the central bank has perfect information. In this environment, private agents extract information about the underlying shocks from the central bank?s interest-rate decisions. This informational effect weakens the direct effect of monetary policy: When the central bank adjusts the interest rate to offset the effects of underlying shocks, the interest rate also reveals information about the realization of underlying shocks. Because private agents have more precise information about the shocks and consequently react more aggressively to it, the economy becomes harder to stabilize with monetary policy. I show that committing to the optimal state-contingent policy rule alleviates this problem by controlling the information revealed through the interest rate.
AUTHORS: Jia, Chengcheng
DATE: 2019-04-17

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