Monetary policy

Prachi Mishra, 16 June 2016

All monetary policies have external spillover effects. However, the domestic mandates of most central banks may not legally allow them to take spillovers into account, and may force them to undertake aggressive policies so long as they have some small positive domestic effect. This column looks at the rules of the game for responsible policy in such a context. It proposes a ‘traffic light’ system to identify policies that should be encouraged by the international community, policies that should be used temporarily and with care, and policies that should be avoided at all costs.

Michiel van Leuvensteijn, Adrian van Rixtel, Bing Xu, 12 June 2016

The unprecedented accommodative monetary policy stance implemented across the world in recent years has pushed interest rates to the zero lower bound, and even into negative territory. Based on an analysis of regulated floors and ceilings in bank loan and deposit interest rates in China, this column argues that when lending rates are close to regulatory imposed floors and hence cannot fall much further, the measurement of bank competition using more traditional measures of competition is flawed. This is important because lower bank competition has detrimental effects on the pass–through of interest rate changes and reduces risk-taking by banks.

Robin L 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.

John Muellbauer, 10 June 2016

The Eurozone faces a lost decade or worse under current fiscal policy and restrictions on monetary policy. The ECB now faces a fundamental contradiction in its mandate between the Lisbon Treaty’s Article 127 (price stability, plus the ECB target of under but close to 2% inflation) and Article 123 (no overt monetary finance of governments). This article discusses three options – two ways in which the fiscal rules could be improved; and the temporary abeyance of Article 123, making it ‘state-dependent’. It also explains why recent arguments against the effectiveness of ‘helicopter money’ are mistaken.

Claudio Borio, Piti Disyatat, Anna Zabai, 24 May 2016

Seven years on from the great financial crisis and despite central banks being seen by many as ‘the only game in town’, there has been a renewed push for monetary policy to experiment even further. One of the latest proposals is the revival of Milton Friedman’s ‘helicopter money’. But have all the implications of what many see as central banks’ ‘nuclear option’ been fully appreciated? This column argues that this is not the case. Realising the benefits that its proponents claim exist would require giving up on interest rate policy forever.

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