Forward guidance in the UK
Spencer Dale, James Talbot 13 September 2013
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has recently provided some explicit forward guidance regarding the future conduct of monetary policy in the UK. This column by the Bank's Chief economist explains how the MPC designed its forward guidance to respond to the unprecedented challenges facing the UK economy and argues that forward guidance allows the MPC to explore the scope for economic expansion without putting price and financial stability at risk.
At its meeting on 1 August 2013, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) agreed to provide state-contingent forward guidance concerning the future conduct of monetary policy. The aim was to provide more information to help financial markets, households and businesses understand the conditions under which the current stance of monetary policy would be maintained.
monetary policy, Central Banks, Bank of England, forward guidance
US rate hike fears are unwarranted
Mickey Levy 03 November 2014
The Fed is stretching out its zero interest-rate policy waiting for labour market improvements. As unemployment fell the emphasis shifted to wages, which are an even more problematic measure of economic conditions. Basing monetary policy on a notoriously long cyclical laggard is prone to policy mistakes. This column argues that moving up rate hikes would be wise and prudent.
How often have we heard the phrase “If the Fed hikes rates too early, the economic recovery will be derailed”? It is ingrained in the Fed’s mindset and statements like it appear frequently in the media. Yet the history of Fed rate hikes during previous economic expansions suggests that such fears are unwarranted, and the current 5½-year-old expansion is on sound footing and would fare just fine, and would even be enhanced, if the Fed began hiking rates. Normalising interest rates should be welcomed, not feared, by the Fed.
monetary policy, interest rate hikes, forward guidance
“Mensch tracht, und Gott lacht” – what’s the best guidance on monetary policy?
David Miles 22 October 2014
Many central banks embrace forward guidance by announcing expected interest rate paths. But how likely it is that actual rates will be close to expected ones? This column argues that quantifying such uncertainty poses great difficulties. Precise probability statements in a world of uncertainty (not just risk) can be misleading. It might be better to rely on qualitative guidance such as: “Interest rate rises will probably be gradual and likely to be to a level below the old normal”.
“Mensch tracht, und Gott lacht” is a Yiddish proverb – men plan and God laughs. Woody Allen puts the same thought this way: “If you want to make God laugh tell him about your plans”. Some people might see these words as a fitting epitaph for forward guidance on monetary policy. The Bank of England has certainly faced a good deal of criticism for the guidance that it has recently been giving, as has the Federal Reserve in the US.
forward guidance, unconventional monetary policy, monetary policy, Central Banks, central bank communication, interest rates, uncertainty
To exit the Great Recession, central banks must adapt their policies and models
Marcus Miller, Lei Zhang 10 September 2014
During the Great Moderation, inflation targeting with some form of Taylor rule became the norm at central banks. This column argues that the Global Crisis called for a new approach, and that the divergence in macroeconomic performance since then between the US and the UK on the one hand, and the Eurozone on the other, is partly attributable to monetary policy differences. The ECB’s model of the economy worked well during the Great Moderation, but is ill suited to understanding the Great Recession.
“Practical men…are usually the slaves…[of] some academic scribbler of a few years back” – John Maynard Keynes.
For monetary policy to be most effective, Michael Woodford emphasised the crucial importance of managing expectations. For this purpose, he advocated that central banks adopt explicit rules for setting interest rates to check inflation and recession, and went on to note that:
Global crisis Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy
Taylor rule, forward guidance, great moderation, global crisis, Great Recession, quantitative easing, DSGE models, expectations, tapering, US, UK, Europe, eurozone, ECB, Bank of England, central banking, IMF, unconventional monetary policy
Publish or be damned – or why central banks need to say more about the path of their policy rates
Richard Barwell, Jagjit Chadha 31 August 2014
In the wake of the crisis, forward guidance has become a prominent tool of monetary policy. This column argues that central banks should go a step further, communicating to the public the internal policy debate that goes into monetary policy formation – especially regarding uncertainty. Since policy is determined contingent on a range of possible outcomes, forward guidance would become more effective by explicitly communicating how policy would respond along this uncertain path.
The central banking community has made significant steps to improve its communication strategy since the days of myth and mystique criticised by Alan Blinder in 1998:
“Greater openness is not a popular case in central banking circles, where mystery is sometimes argued to be essential to effective monetary policy…[but] a more open central bank, by contrast, naturally conditions expectations by providing the markets with information about its own view of the fundamental forces guiding monetary policy.”
Bank of England, forward guidance, unconventional monetary policy
The impact of unconventional monetary policy on perceptions of tail risk
Masazumi Hattori, Andreas Schrimpf, Vladyslav Sushko 17 November 2013
This column argues that asset purchases and forward guidance by central banks can be effective in reducing financial market participants’ tail-risk perceptions. US data suggest that, since their inception in 2008, the unconventional policies adopted by the Federal Reserve have significantly compressed perceptions of tail risk. Despite increases in risk premia during the recent ‘tapering’ episode, estimates of tail-risk perceptions still remain significantly below the levels observed when the measures were introduced. Still, the effects of exit on tail-risk perceptions remain uncertain, and will require careful monitoring.
A common, but hitherto unproven, notion is that central banks have effectively curbed perceptions of tail risks in financial markets by means of their unconventional policies.1 Such an effect is distinct from the well-documented compression of long-term yields (see Woodford 2012 for a comprehensive discussion). A reduction in tail risk perceptions will have an immediate effect on the pricing of risky assets, such as equities, and may have provided extra support for risk-taking behaviour – which was one of the aims of unconventional policies.
Financial markets Monetary policy
tail risk, unconventional monetary policy, forward guidance, risk premia, asset purchases
Forward Guidance: A new Vox eBook
Wouter den Haan 23 October 2013
Forward guidance is the practice of communicating the future path of monetary policy instruments. This column introduces a new eBook on the subject that collects the views of central bankers from the Fed, ECB, Bank of Japan, and Bank of England together with those of scholars and market participants. Forward guidance could be the key to unwinding massive central-bank balance sheets without severe disruptions.
Forward guidance is the provision of information by central banks about the future conduct of monetary policy and in particular about the central bank's policy interest rate. Forward guidance is aimed at influencing the public's expectations. This goal is not new. It has long been understood that managing expectations is an important part of monetary policy.
Forward policy guidance at the Federal Reserve
John C. Williams 16 October 2013
The Federal Open Market Committee has used various forms of forward guidance to influence the views of businesses, investors and households about where monetary policy is likely to be headed. This column by the President of the San Francisco Fed presents his views on the benefits, limitations and future role of forward policy guidance.
In response to the financial crisis, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) lowered the target federal funds rate to essentially zero in December 2008, where it has remained. The economy, however, was still reeling, and it wasn’t possible to create additional monetary stimulus by cutting the federal funds rate further—owing to the inability of nominal interest rates to fall much below that point.
Federal Reserve, forward guidance
Unconventional monetary policies revisited (Part II)
Biagio Bossone 05 October 2013
So-called ‘helicopter money’ policies – those in which government spending or transfers to households are paid for by printing money – involve both monetary and fiscal policy. This means they require extraordinary cooperation between the government and the central bank, which potentially undermines central-bank independence. However, emergency policies of this type may be justified during extreme systemic crises. Injections of helicopter money can increase net wealth and thus stimulate spending, and this mechanism is particularly important when conventional monetary policy is stuck at the zero lower bound.
Unconventional monetary policies: From quantitative easing to debt monetisation
Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy
monetary policy, quantitative easing, forward guidance, helicopter money, central-bank independence
Forward guidance and the ECB
Peter Praet 06 August 2013
The ECB recently changed its monetary policy communication strategy to include a form of forward guidance. This column, written by ECB Executive Board Member Peter Praet, explains the new thinking and argues that it has contributed to more clarity over the ECB’s assessment of the outlook and its reaction function as well as helping to stabilise money-market conditions and anchor expectations more firmly.
The Introductory Statement to the Press Conference following the ECB’s Governing Council meeting of 4 July contained the following two sentences:
The Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time. This expectation is based on the overall subdued outlook for inflation extending into the medium term, given the broad-based weakness in the real economy and subdued monetary dynamics.
monetary policy, forward guidance, ECB policy