Ignazio Angeloni, 14 September 2020

The long-awaited outcome of the Federal Reserve’s monetary strategy review is finally out. This column argues that while the ‘Powell doctrine’ responds to a genuine need to address issues in the Fed’s policy framework, it also introduces complexities in the interpretation and implementation of monetary policy which are likely to become more apparent over time. The hurdles involved do not have easy solutions, and other central banks pondering their own monetary policy framework are well advised to take heed.

Olivier Coibion, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Michael Weber, 22 February 2019

Monetary policy increasingly relies on communication, but most households are unaware of inflation targets or monetary policy announcements. This column uses large-scale randomised controlled trial of US households to study how different forms of communication influence the inflation expectations of individuals. Reading the Federal Open Market Committee statement has about the same average effect on expectations as being told about the Federal Reserve’s inflation target. Reading a news article about the same statement cuts the effect by half. 

Andreas Neuhierl, Michael Weber, 31 August 2018

Equity markets are known to move in a predictable manner immediately after policy decisions. This column provides evidence of large predictable movements in stock prices 25 days before policy actions in the US. The shocks continue for another 15 days, and average 4.5%. It suggests monetary policy shocks might not be shocks after all, and that we might be underestimating the effect of monetary policy on asset prices and real consumption.

Michael Bordo, Klodiana Istrefi, 20 August 2018

US presidents can influence monetary policy through the appointment process of the Federal Open Market Committee members. This column examines the policy preferences of Committee members in relation to the ideology of their appointers. Democratic Board nominees have been mostly perceived to be doves, while the shares of both hawks and doves (as opposed to swingers) appears higher for Republican nominees. In contrast, a high share of hawks among Federal Reserve Bank presidents, who are appointed by their bank’s board of directors, is observed irrespective of the president’s party.

Stephen Cecchetti, Kim Schoenholtz, 25 July 2018

Neil Ericsson, 08 June 2017

Decisions by the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee are based in part on the Greenbook forecasts. These forecasts are produced by the Federal Reserve Board’s staff and are presented to the FOMC prior to their policy meetings, but are not made public for another five years. This column shows that the minutes of those FOMC meetings can help infer the Fed staff's Greenbook forecasts of the US real GDP growth rate, years before the Greenbook's public release. The FOMC minutes are thus highly informative about a key input to monetary policymaking.

Robin Lumsdaine, 11 June 2016

As happens eight times a year, next week financial markets will again turn their attention to what, if any, change the Federal Reserve will make to its policy rate. This column discusses research on the anticipation of such decisions via the Fed funds futures markets, which indicates that markets ‘set up’ much farther in advance than has been previously documented. This finding emphasises the importance of clarity in central bank communications.

Sylvester Eijffinger, Ronald Mahieu, Louis Raes, 23 April 2015

Classifying the preferences of members of policy committees has been a topic of intense debate and research. This column presents spatial analysis of the preferences of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members using transcripts from meetings. The results indicate that a political appointment channel was not active or effective, and there is little effect of career experiences. The overall lack of systemic preference among FOMC members is a reassuring with regard to the institutional design of the FOMC.

Stephen Golub, Ayse Kaya, Michael Reay, 08 September 2014

Since the Global Crisis, critics have questioned why regulatory agencies failed to prevent it. This column argues that the US Federal Reserve was aware of potential problems brewing in the financial system, but was largely unconcerned by them. Both Greenspan and Bernanke subscribed to the view that identifying bubbles is very difficult, pre-emptive bursting may be harmful, and that central banks could limit the damage ex post. The scripted nature of FOMC meetings, the focus on the Greenbook, and a ‘silo’ mentality reduced the impact of dissenting views.

Stephen Hansen, Michael McMahon, Andrea Prat, 20 June 2014

Central bank transparency is essential to democratic accountability. Central bankers often limit it – fearing its stifling effect on frank debate. Yet transparency may induce monetary policy committee members to be better prepared. This column discusses evidence showing that the ‘better prepared’ effect is important empirically. Exploiting a natural experiment in the Fed Open Market Committee in 1993 – and using computational linguistics tools to measure the impact of transparency on deliberation – the research shows that the net effect is a more informative deliberation process.


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