Central banks have typically targeted their communication at financial markets. Increasingly, however, many have started actively communicating with the general public. Using Dutch survey data, this column finds that the public’s knowledge of monetary policy objectives is far from perfect, and varies widely across respondents. Those with a greater understanding of ECB objectives tend to form more realistic inflation expectations. Central banks seeking to target the general public must take account of discrepancies in households’ knowledge of and interest in monetary policy.
Carin van der Cruijsen, David-Jan Jansen, Jakob de Haan, Sunday, August 23, 2015
Alex Pienkowski, Pablo Anaya, Thursday, August 6, 2015
During the Global Crisis, sovereign debt-to-GDP ratios grew substantially in the face of shocks to growth, increased fiscal deficits, bank recapitalisation costs, and rising borrowing costs. This column looks at how these various shocks interact with each other to exacerbate or mitigate the eventual impact on debt. Choice of monetary policy regime is an important determinant of how public debt reacts to these shocks.
Angus Armstrong, Francesco Caselli, Jagjit Chadha, Wouter den Haan, Sunday, August 2, 2015
Does monetary policy really face a zero lower bound or could policy rates be pushed materially below zero per cent? And would the benefits of reforms to achieve negative policy rates outweigh the costs? This column, which reports the views of the leading UK-based macroeconomists, suggests that there is no strong support for reforming the monetary system to allow policy rates to be set at negative levels.
Joshua Aizenman, Menzie D. Chinn, Hiro Ito, Thursday, July 9, 2015
Monetary policies of financial centre countries could have large spillover effects on smaller economies. This column argues that the strength of the links with the centre economies has been the major factor affecting financial conditions in emerging and developing countries. Open macro policies such as the exchange rate regime and financial openness are also important. An economy that pursues greater exchange rate stability and financial openness has a stronger link with the centre economies.
Carmen M Reinhart, Thursday, July 9, 2015
Contrary to the intent of the designers of what was to be an irreversible currency union, Greece may well exit the Eurozone. This column argues that default does not inevitably trigger the introduction of a new currency (or the re-activation of an old one). However, if ‘de-euroisation’ is the end game, then a forcible (or compulsory) currency conversion is likely to be a central part of that process, along with more broad-based capital controls.
Arvind Subramanian, Monday, June 15, 2015
There is a lot of discussion of the right course of monetary policy for India. In this column, India’s Chief Economic Adviser argues that the country’s real policy interest rates have diverged significantly for consumers and producers, and are unusually high for the latter. The real rate is 2.4% based on the consumer price index, but 7.5% based on the GDP deflator. There is a clear need for more consideration of the appropriate measure of restrictiveness in these unusual times.
Michael Bordo, Harold James, Monday, April 6, 2015
The classic exchange-rate trilemma analysis argues that capital mobility, monetary autonomy and fixed exchange rates are incompatible. This column shows how policy trilemma analysis can be extended to other domains, specifically financial stability, political economy, and international relations. It argues that analysing these trade-offs can help to identify policy options that balance macroeconomic objectives and political realities in the face of globalisation.
Benjamin Nelson, Gabor Pinter, Konstantinos Theodoridis, Monday, March 16, 2015
There has been an extensive debate over whether central banks should raise interest rates to ‘lean against’ the build-up of leverage in the financial system. This column reports on empirical evidence showing that, in contrast to the conventional view, surprise monetary contractions have tended to increase shadow bank asset growth, rather than reduce it in the US. Monetary policy had the opposite effect on commercial bank asset growth. These findings cast some doubt on the idea that monetary policy could be used to “get in all the cracks” of the financial system in a uniform way.
Mark Gertler, Peter Karadi, Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Evidence of the impact of monetary policy on economic activity supports conventional models with nominal rigidities. This column highlights the importance of the ‘credit channel’ of monetary policy. Unanticipated tightening produces a significant drop in real activity. However, monetary policy responses produce large movements in credit costs, which are due to the reaction of term premia and credit spreads. Therefore, to account for credit costs, it might be necessary to amend macroeconomic models to control for term premia and credit spreads.
Charles A.E. Goodhart, Monday, March 2, 2015
Following the Warsh Review, the recording, number, and timing of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee meetings will change. This column argues that the recording may make the decision meeting more formal and could inhibit debate, although the eight-year gap before publishing transcripts ameliorates this concern. Having fewer MPC meetings is a good thing, and reduces ‘noise’ around monetary policy. The revised meeting schedule will not add to transparency and raises the risk of leaks and ‘news shocks’.
Òscar Jordà, Moritz Schularick, Alan Taylor, Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Housing played a major role in the Global Crisis, and some worry that the ultra-low interest rate environment is inflating new housing bubbles. Using 140 years of data from 14 advanced economies, this column provides a quantitative measure of the financial stability risks that stem from extended periods of ultra-low interest rates. The historical insights suggest that the potentially destabilising by-products of easy money must be taken seriously and weighed carefully against the stimulus benefits. Macroeconomic stabilisation policy has implications for financial stability, and vice versa. Resolving this dichotomy requires central banks greater use of macroprudential tools.
Plamen Iossifov, Jiří Podpiera, Monday, February 16, 2015
The ongoing, synchronised disinflation across Europe raises the question of whether non-Eurozone EU countries are affected by the undershooting of the Eurozone inflation target, by other global factors, or by synchronised domestic, real sector developments. This column argues that falling world food and energy prices have been the main disinflationary driver. However, countries with more rigid exchange-rate regimes and/or higher shares of foreign value added in domestic demand have also been affected by disinflationary spillovers from the Eurozone.
Sebastian Edwards, Wednesday, February 4, 2015
The conventional ‘trilemma’ view is that countries that allow free capital flows can still pursue independent monetary policies as long as they allow flexible exchange rates. This column examines the pass-through of Federal Reserve interest rates to policy rates in Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. The author concludes that, to the extent that central banks take into account other central banks’ policies, there will be ‘policy contagion’ and that, even under flexible rates, monetary policy will not be fully independent.
Dirk Niepelt, Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Recent experience with the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates, and the use of high-denomination notes by criminals and tax evaders, have led to revived proposals to phase out cash. This column argues that abolishing cash may be neither necessary nor sufficient to overcome the zero lower bound problem, and would severely undermine privacy. Allowing the public to hold reserves at central banks could reduce the need for deposit insurance, although the transition to the new regime and the effects on credit supply must be carefully considered.
Philippe Andrade, Richard Crump, Stefano Eusepi, Emanuel Moench, Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Expectations are critical for macroeconomics and financial markets. But the expectation-formation process is not well understood. This column discusses some empirical characteristics of forecast disagreement from professional forecasters in the US, and discusses the ‘information frictions’ that underlie the heterogeneity of expectations.
Jean-Pierre Landau, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Eurozone inflation has been persistently declining for almost a year, and constantly undershooting forecasts. Building on existing research, this column explores the conjecture that low inflation in the Eurozone results from an excess demand for safe assets. If true, this conjecture would have definite policy implications. Getting out of such a ‘safety trap’ would necessitate fiscal or non-conventional monetary policies tailored to temporarily take risk away from private balance sheets.
Kristina Morkunaite, Felix Huefner, Thursday, November 27, 2014
The post-Crisis G7 economies have suffered weak business investment despite record low interest rates and the favourable financial positions of corporates. Some consider this the ‘new normal’ arising from secular, supply-side forces that have contributed to declining potential growth rates. This column argues that structural factors alone are not sufficient to explain the current weakness in investment rates. There is thus room for positive surprise if companies realise the pent-up investment demand.
Alberto Cavallo, Guillermo Crucas, Ricardo Perez-Truglia, Monday, November 10, 2014
Although central banks have a natural desire to influence household inflation expectations, there is no consensus on how these expectations are formed or the best ways to influence them. This column presents evidence from a series of survey experiments conducted in a low-inflation context (the US) and a high-inflation context (Argentina). The authors find that dispersion in household expectations can be explained by the cost of acquiring and interpreting inflation statistics, and by the use of inaccurate memories about price changes of specific products. They also provide recommendations for central bank communication strategies.
Eric T Swanson , Saturday, November 8, 2014
In December 2008, the Fed lowered the federal funds rate to essentially zero and has kept it there since then. This column argues that, contrary to traditional macroeconomic thinking, monetary policy has not been severely constrained by the zero bound until mid-2011. The results imply that the Fed could have done more to ease monetary policy between 2009 and 2011. These findings could also help explain why the fiscal stimulus package adopted in 2009 did not bring the expected success.
Jean Pisani-Ferry, Friday, November 7, 2014
A triple-dip recession in the Eurozone is now a distinct possibility. This column argues that additional monetary stimulus is unlikely to be effective, that the scope for further fiscal stimulus is limited, and that some structural reforms may actually hurt growth in the short run by adding to disinflationary pressures in a liquidity trap. The author advocates using tax incentives and tighter regulations to encourage firms to replace environmentally inefficient capital.