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Expectation Traps and Discretion


Varadarajan V. Chari


University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics; Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Lawrence J. Christiano


Northwestern University; Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland; Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Martin Eichenbaum


Northwestern University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

April 1996

NBER Working Paper No. w5541

Abstract:     
We argue that discretionary monetary policy exposes the economy to welfare-decreasing instability. It does so by creating the potential for private expectations about the response of monetary policy to exogenous shocks to be self-fulfilling. Among the many equilibria that are possible, some have good welfare properties. But others exhibit welfare-decreasing volatility in output and employment. We refer to the latter type of equilibria as expectation traps. In effect, our paper presents a new argument for commitment in monetary policy because commitment eliminates these bad equilibria. We show that full commitment is not necessary to achieve the best outcome, and that more limited forms of commitment suffice.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 39

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Date posted: August 19, 1996  

Suggested Citation

Chari, Varadarajan V. and Christiano, Lawrence J. and Eichenbaum, Martin, Expectation Traps and Discretion (April 1996). NBER Working Paper No. w5541. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=3248

Contact Information

Varadarajan V. Chari
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics ( email )
271 19th Avenue South
1108 Management & Economics
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-626-7151 (Phone)
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis ( email )
90 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55480
United States
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Lawrence J. Christiano
Northwestern University ( email )
2003 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-491-8231 (Phone)
847-491-7001 (Fax)
Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
East 6th & Superior
Cleveland, OH 44101-1387
United States
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
90 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55480
United States
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Martin Eichenbaum (Contact Author)
Northwestern University ( email )
2003 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-491-8232 (Phone)
847-491-7001 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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