Intermediate Commitment, Temptation, and Central Banks

29 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2020

See all articles by Craig Fratrik

Craig Fratrik

Duke University - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 16, 2020


Traditionally, models of central banks assume they either ignore past constraints (discretion) or completely integrate them (commitment) into today's decision making. I show how the temptation to ignore the past can be taken seriously to produce intermediate behavior. I ground the analysis in micro-theoretic treatment of temptation for a two-period model. Then, I develop an extension of recursive contracts that accommodates a broad class of intermediate decision-making processes. Next I develop a particular example of "scaled commitment." It can model central banks succumbing to stabilization bias after the zero lower bound, but resisting inflation bias. Finally, I provide a general derivation of the recursive approach for any problem with a forward-looking constraint.

Keywords: commitment, recursive contracts, time inconsistency

JEL Classification: E52, C63

Suggested Citation

Fratrik, Craig, Intermediate Commitment, Temptation, and Central Banks (October 16, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Craig Fratrik (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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