Fear of Liftoff: Uncertainty, Rules, and Discretion in Monetary Policy Normalization

24 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2015

See all articles by Athanasios Orphanides

Athanasios Orphanides

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

As the author describes it, the Federal Reserve’s muddled mandate to attain simultaneously the incompatible goals of maximum employment and price stability invites short-term-oriented discretionary policymaking inconsistent with the systematic approach needed for monetary policy to contribute best to the economy over time. Fear of liftoff—the reluctance to start the process of policy normalization after the end of a recession—serves as an example. Drawing on public choice and cognitive psychology perspectives, the author discusses causes of this problem: The Federal Reserve could adopt a framework that relies on a simple policy rule subject to periodic reviews and adaptation. Replacing meetingby- meeting discretion with a simple policy rule would eschew discretion in favor of systematic policy. Periodic review of the rule would allow the Federal Reserve the flexibility to account for and occasionally adapt to the evolving understanding of the economy. Congressional legislation could guide the Federal Reserve in this direction. However, the Federal Reserve may be best placed to select the simple rule and could embrace this improvement on its own, within its current mandate, with the publication of a simple rule along the lines of its statement of longer-run goals.

JEL Classification: E32, E52, E58, E61

Suggested Citation

Orphanides, Athanasios, Fear of Liftoff: Uncertainty, Rules, and Discretion in Monetary Policy Normalization (2015). Review, Vol. 97, Issue 3, pp. 173-96, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2669846

Athanasios Orphanides (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

100 Main Street
E62-416
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/faculty/detail.php?in_spseqno=54058

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