Ugh…

You can call Federal Reserve policies aimed at the sending of signals that alter the expected rate of future inflation “monetary policy” if you want, but then you lose analytical clarity–because the way such policies work (if they work) is not the “normal” way that “normal” monetary policy works.

Prof. Delong

New rule: to opine on monetary policy you have to have opened a textbook on the subject that was written in the last 30 years.

From Micheal Woodford’s text (in a section in the introduction called “Central Banking as Management of Expectations”):

For successful monetary policy is not so much a matter of effective control of overnight interest rates as it is of shaping market expectations of the way in which interest rates, inflation and income are likely to evolve over the coming year and later. On the one hand, optimizing models imply… behavior should be forward looking… Moreover, given the increasing sophistication of market participants… it is plausible to suppose that a central bank’s commitment to a systematic policy will be factored into… forecasts… Not only do expectations about policy matter, but… very little else matters…

From Carl Walsh’s text:

Macroeconomic equilibrium depends on both the current and expected future behavior of monetary policy.

From Dornbusch, Fischer and Startz’ undergrad text:

You will remember that the nominal interest rate has two parts: the real interest rate and expected inflation… should [a zero interest rate liquidity trap] occur… policymakers are prepared… to pump money into the economy [and thus raise expected inflation].

From Jones’ new (and excellent) undergrad text:

To the extent that policymakers can influence, or manage, these expectations, they can reduce the costs of maintaining a low target level of inflation. This is one of the most important lessons of modern monetary policy… To the extent that the central bank can coordinate people’s expectations of inflation, it can maintain low and stable inflation without the need for [the bank to induce] recessions. Such coordination requires credibility and transparency on the part of the central bank.

From the Encyclopedia of Economics James Tobin says:

While not all monetarists endorse Friedman’s rule, they do stress the importance of announced rules enabling the public to predict the central bank’s behavior… Long rates depend heavily on expectations of future short rates, and thus on expectations of future Fed policies. For example, heightened expectations of future inflation or of higher federal budget deficits will raise long rates relative to short rates because the Fed has created expectations that it will tighten monetary policy in those circumstances.

3 Responses to “Ugh…”

  • Gabriel says:

    Well, reading books means that you can’t post compulsively on your blog, 10 times an hour.

    Disclaimer: Not being a Christian, I can throw the first stone while being plenty guilty of the thing myself.

  • Scott Sumner says:

    Sorry I didn’t notice this earlier. I just added an update to my October 1st post on DeLong, noting that you made the observation first.

  • pushmedia1 says:

    I’m just happy to be in good company.