Working Paper 613

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On the optimality of transparent monetary policy

Susan Athey
Andrew Atkeson - Consultant
Patrick J. Kehoe

Published April 1, 2001

Abstract
We analyze the optimal design of monetary rules. We suppose there is an agreed upon social welfare function that depends on the randomly fluctuating state of the economy and that the monetary authority has private information about that state. We suppose the government can constrain the policies of the monetary authority by legislating a rule. In general, well-designed rules trade-off the need to constrain policymakers from the standard time consistency problem arising from the temptation for unexpected inflation with the desire to give them flexibility to react to their private information. Surprisingly, we show that for a wide variety of circumstances the optimal rule gives the monetary authority no flexibility. This rule can be interpreted as a strict inflation targeting rule where the target is a prespecified function of publicly observed data. In this sense, optimal monetary policy is transparent..


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