The Bank of Japan has recently implemented one of the largest central bank policy shifts in modern times, raising its inflation target explicitly to 2% and kicking off the most rapid balance sheet expansion among the leading central banks. This column assesses this policy decision and its potential pitfalls, and compares it to similar policies enacted in the past. Unless policy has a significantly larger impact on financial conditions going forward than it has to date, the revised framework will likely be insufficient to achieve the Bank’s inflation target any time soon.
Stephen Cecchetti, Kim Schoenholtz, 07 December 2016
Stefan Gerlach, Rebecca Stuart, 17 November 2016
The ‘dot plots’ that the Federal Open Market Committee has been publishing since 2012 have attracted a great deal of attention, but are difficult to interpret because changes in them reflect a combination of new information and changes in the projections horizon. This column addresses how the Committee members’ views of monetary policy have evolved in recent years, and have they have responded to changes in the macroeconomic environment.
Luca Dedola, Luc Laeven, 15 November 2016
In September 2016, the ECB held its first Annual Research Conference. This column surveys the contributions to the conference, which brought together policymakers and academics from around the world to promote discussion of topics at the forefront of monetary and financial economic research. Nobel laureate Eric Maskin gave the keynote lecture, addressing whether fiscal policy should be set by politicians, and the conference included eight further presentations and a panel discussion on monetary policy and financial stability.
Bruce Kasman, Joseph Lupton, 03 November 2016
Over the past two years, a significant disinflationary impulse has dampened nominal activity around the world. As this disinflationary impulse fades, however, both nominal and real growth should normalise. Indeed, as this column highlights, the latest signs show inflation and inflation expectations rising, profits stabilising, and capital expenditure inching up.
Ricardo Reis, 14 October 2016
Conventional economic theory predicts that, outside of a financial crisis, quantitative easing should have no effect on real outcomes or inflation. This column proposes two theoretical channels through which quantitative easing might also work in a fiscal crisis. In this case, quantitative easing can be a valuable tool because it can control the path of inflation over time and reduce the distortions to the credit flow in the economy.
Gianni La Cava, 08 October 2016
The rising share of income accruing to housing is a key feature of the changing US income distribution. This column examines the determinants of this phenomenon. The rise occurred due to an increasing share of income accruing to owner-occupiers through imputed rent, it is concentrated in states that are constrained in terms of new housing supply, and it is closely associated with the long-run decline in real interest rates and inflation.
Marc Dordal i Carreras, Olivier Coibion, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Johannes Wieland, 21 September 2016
Models that estimate optimal inflation rates struggle to accurately account for interest rates reaching the zero lower bound, due to the lack of historical data available. This column suggests periods of hitting the zero lower bound are longer than previously thought, and models the optimal inflation rate target on this. Given the uncertainty associated with measuring the historical frequency and duration of such episodes, the wide range of plausible optimal inflation rates implies that any inflation targets should be treated with caution.
Graham Elliott, Allan Timmermann,
Policymakers use forecasting to attempt to assess the impact of major events, such as the recent Brexit vote, on the economy. While forecasting has improved dramatically in recent years, the models can still be greatly improved. This column discusses some of the limitations of forecasting models, and how policymakers can make their predictions more reliable. Key considerations are using more data to generate predictions, and using myriad models to eliminate individual misspecifications.
Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 07 July 2016
Low inflation targets can cause economies to hit the zero lower bound during deflationary periods caused by even mild shocks. In such circumstances, central banks lose their ability to stimulate the economy. This column assesses the risk of this happening using a model that endogenises self-perpetuating optimism and pessimism in the economy. Given agents’ intrinsic chronic pessimism during times of recession, central banks should raise their inflation targets to 3 or 4% to preserve their ability to stimulate the economy when needed.
ADBI invites the submission of theoretical and empirical papers on the implications of negative interest rates for emerging Asia. We are looking for original unpublished research related to, but not limited to, the following topics:
Implication of an extremely low- or negative-yield environment for risk-taking behaviors in Asia and the possibility of financial market dislocations
Side effects of NIRPs on financial markets and real economies of Asia
Transmission channels for the impact of NIRPs on Asian financial markets and exchange rate markets
NIRPs’ challenges in monetary and exchange rate policy and macroprudential policy management in Asia
NIRPs’ potential impact on international reserve holdings in Asia
NIRPs and current account imbalances in Asia
Greater role of international policy coordination in Asia
NIRPs’ impact on banking behavior
Alberto Cavallo, Roberto Rigobon, 24 April 2016
Big Data is changing the world, even economics. This column describes MIT’s Billion Prices Project and discusses key lessons for both inflation measurement and some fundamental research questions in macro and international economics. Online prices can be used to construct daily price indexes in multiple countries and to help avoid measurement biases.
Nick Ligthart, Ashoka Mody, 14 April 2016
Many claim that monetary policy has hit diminishing returns. They use that as an explanation for the slower economic growth and low inflation in the Eurozone. This column argues that the main problem is that the ECB acted late and with half-measures to the Global Crisis, which was seen as falling short of its promises. The real problem is thus not a lack of ammunition, but a lack of credibility.
Alex Cukierman, 01 April 2016
Central banks are there to ensure price stability, and economists generally agree that politics and central banking don’t mix well. This column takes us through the inflationary and more controlled history of Israel’s central bank, highlighting the current policy dilemmas facing the country.
Alex Cukierman, 30 March 2016
The quantity theory of money implies that sustained inflation requires a sustained increase in the money supply. It does not, however, imply that the reverse is also true. This column explores and illustrates this issue by comparing inflation in the US following the collapse of Lehman Brothers with Germany’s hyperinflation experience after WWI. A key factor explaining the vastly different inflation experiences is how the monetary expansion translated into demand. The Fed’s base expansion did not translate into demand for goods and services, whereas the German monetary expansion was motivated by the government’s hunger for seigniorage revenues.
Biagio Bossone, Stefano Labini, 19 February 2016
The ECB’s response to the Crisis – not providing stimulus to the Eurozone economy when it needed it, and allowing it to slip into a low inflation trap – is a reflection of the monetary union’s faulty architecture. This column recalls a 1998 manifesto from several distinguished scholars that warned EZ policymakers of the potential consequences of a misguided policy framework. Two sets of issues need to be critically addressed by current EZ policymakers: its objectives and instruments.
Pablo Pincheira, Jorge Selaive, Jose Luis Nolazco, 15 February 2016
One thing economists can agree on is that inflation is hard to forecast. This column argues that in this context, the idea that ‘core inflation’ may be a useful predictor is very appealing, especially for central banks that need to know where inflation is heading. Evaluating the ability of core to forecast headline inflation for OECD and some non-OECD countries, it seems that sizable predictability emerges for a very small subset of countries, but it is either subtle or undetectable for most other economies.
Máximo Camacho, Danilo Leiva-Leon, Gabriel Pérez-Quirós, 01 December 2015
Today's monetary policy effectiveness depends on expectations of future monetary policy. Shocks affect such expectations, but the nature of the shock matters. This column presents evidence that negative demand shocks lead markets to expect looser policy in the short run. Negative supply shocks lead to expectations of looser policy in the medium to long run. Unexpected expansions – from either the supply or demand side – have no significant influence on markets' expectations of future monetary policy.
Refet Gürkaynak, Troy Davig, 25 November 2015
Central banks around the world have been shouldering ever-increasing policy burdens beyond their core mandate of stabilising prices. This column considers the social welfare implications when central banks take on additional mandates that are usually the domain of other policymakers. Additional mandates are shown to worsen trade-offs faced by the central bank, while distorting the incentives of other policymakers. Central bank ‘mandate creep’ may be detrimental to welfare.
Athanasios Orphanides, 11 November 2015
There is generally consensus among macroeconomists that monetary policy works best when it is systematic. Following the financial crisis, the US Federal Reserve shifted from long-term, systematic policy to short-term goals targeting unemployment. This column argues that, while these were appropriate in the aftermath of the downturn, such policy accommodations have been pursued for too long since. The need for a somewhat accommodative policy cannot be used to defend the current non-systematic policy and excessive emphasis on short-term employment gains.
Mouhamadou Sy, 09 November 2015
From the introduction of the euro in 1999 to the Greek crisis in 2010, the Eurozone witnessed external imbalances between countries at its core and those at its periphery. These imbalances have been attributed either to differences in competitiveness or to the effect of financial integration. This column argues that in order to understand the imbalances within the Eurozone, it is necessary to consider credit costs and capital flows. The lower real cost of credit for high-inflation countries must be taken into account, as well as the inflow of capital to the non-tradable sector that this implies. Monetary policy cannot be conducted in a ‘one size fits all’ manner.