Prof Joseph Stiglitz chips into the debate over state of macro.
Archive for the ‘Central Banks / Monetary Policy’ Category
Over the weekend, some really interesting and scandalous story broke out. Propublica’s Jake Bernstein wrote this long article showing how the cosy relationship between NY Fed and Wall Street. As if this was anything new really. Michael Lewis adds more to the story.
The difference is Bernstein gets this former NY Fed regulator Carmen Segarra to speak up. Segarra was an onsite supervisor a Goldman Sachs. Onsite regulators are those who actually sit in the office of the regulated entity. She was assigned Goldman Sachs and in act of bravado she taped her conversations while being in conversation with NY Fed and Goldman officials. The tapes show how NY Fed officials were just so afraid to ask Goldman to behave.
And this was after NY Fed actually appointed someone to sort its culture right. Lewis adds:
WSJ Blog explains:
Unlike the U.S. Federal Reserve and other western central banks, the People’s Bank of China isn’t independent of the government. It reports to the State Council, the Chinese government’s top decision-making body and as a result, the PBOC has no real control over China’s monetary policy.
But on inflation front, China has had low inflation for a while. So even if the central bank is not so called independent, it has managed to keep govt at bay:
He says monetray stability can only be achieved if we know the actual inflaiton level. For latter, we need to continue to review our stats
As monetary stability is no less important, I find it highly appropriate that the first session of this conference is devoted to “New monetary policy indicators”. No topic could be more topical, given the vigour of the current debate about the supposed threat of deflation. But no debate can be productive, especially at the policy level, unless the supporting data are sound. In this light, measures of inflation and inflation expectations are surely an appropriate focus for an intensive review by central bank statisticians – and I would like to raise the question here if the IFC might not play a catalytic role in that process. Let me start by revisiting the intricacies of inflation measurement
He points how fin markets say inflation is too low whereas households think it is high:
Has the public understanding of CPI measures improved? As you know consumer surveys reveal a large gap (6% in some cases1) between inflation as measured by the statisticians and inflation as perceived by the public. In other words, the general public may view price trends very differently from financial market participants who complain that “inflation is too low”. And, needless to say, if the central bank itself starts to express concerns that inflation is too low, it may find it difficult to convince the public of its case.
He shows how financial markets expectations of deflation in EU is misplaced given how the long term trends have been.
In the speech he also discusses ways to improve statistics on inflation..
Dissent is part of human life. People assenting or dissenting to other’s views is quite common. However, when it comes to central banking it becomes quite abnormal and generates significant hype.
This article presents a record of dissents on Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) monetary policy votes from the Committee’s inception in its modern form in 1936 through 2013. Dissents were rare during the Committee’s first 20 years but began to increase in the late 1950s. The number of dissents increased sharply during the late 1970s and early 1980s, when both inflation and unemploy- ment were unusually high. However, at other times, the number of dissents was not correlated with either inflation or the unemployment rate. A review of FOMC records and published statements indicates that dissents often reflect fundamental disagreement about (i) how to achieve the Committee’s macroeconomic objectives and (ii) the current stance of policy. The number of dissents also appears to have been influenced by the language used by the FOMC to communicate instructions to the manager of the System Open Market Account.
There is a lot of trivia and interesting stuff in the paper:
ECB had announced the shift earlier. The details came y’day.
- Executive members – All 6 will have voting rights in all 12 months
- Big members -there are 5 members. 4 out of 5 shall maintain recording rights every month. one will drop out. IN Jan 15, Spain shall drop out.
- Small economy members – Post Lithuania joining we shall have 14 members in this group. Out of this 3 shall drop out every month.
So basically, there will be 21 members voting each month (6+4+11). The difference is members shall rotate every month. Unlike FOMC where members rotate every year, here it shall be every month.
But still 21 is pretty large..
The question is kind of tautological. I mean what good are regional Fed members if they do not bring regional angle to the table. After all that is their role.
The issue is whether their voting pattern for interest rates is based on regional understanding or not. Ideally, one would think that monetary policy should be based on the national economy and not on regional basis.
This paper by ECB econs Alexander Jung and Sophia Latsos look at the issue:
In a federal central banking system there is an undisputed need for a regional dimension to monetary policy decision-making. In fact, the literature suggests that monetary policy-makers, who are part of such a system, should use a wide range of indicators when assessing economic and financial conditions. Therefore, it appears warranted if these policy-makers choose to monitor regional data in order to enhance their understanding of national economic dynamics. At the same time, monetary theory cautions that policy-makers should avoid voting in a manner that would favour their region of origin. Such voting behaviour may reflect a regional bias in the interest rate preferences of policymakers and could lead to suboptimal monetary policy outcom econometric strategies, these studies mostly find evidence in favour of the existence of some form of regional bias in policy-makers’ deliberations on interest rates. However, two important questions remain unresolved: do previous findings represent robust evidence that policy-makers’ preferences are subject to a regional bias, and, if so, to what extent does the possible presence of a bias influence monetary policy decisions?
They estimate Taylor rules for each of the regions and check that with interest rate preferences to figure the regional bias. Some Regional Feds did have regional bias but that did not overall affect the mon pol decision:
In order to detect a regional bias in policy-makers’ interest rate preferences, it is necessary to apply specific empirical methods. In this sense, the evidence detecting such biased preferences has to be twofold. First, it has to show that a policy-maker’s interest rate preference responds to regional data stemming from the respective home district. Second, the preference also has to be such that a policymaker would favour the regional economy in his or her decision on the (national) interest rate. For example, a Federal Reserve Bank President with a regional bias would opt for lower (higher) interest rates when his or her region’s unemployment rate was higher (lower) than the national average. The empirical approach to the hypothesis of a regional bias thus requires estimating policy-makers’ reaction functions and augmenting them with a regional variable. The evidence obtained from this has to show that the regional variables of the policy-makers’ respective home districts explain why their interest rate preference deviates from the FOMC’s federal funds rate.
By estimating individual Taylor rules for FOMC members, we examine the interest rate preferences of the Federal Reserve Bank Presidents during the Greenspan era (sample 1989 to 2006). In order to evaluate the regional bias hypothesis, we augment individual Taylor rules for the Federal Reserve Bank Presidents with regional variables and test for their influence on the Presidents’ preferences. Information on individual interest rate preferences stems from FOMC transcripts. Estimates based on these augmented Taylor rules reveal that the preferences of some Federal Reserve Bank Presidents were not free of a regional bias, a result that applies particularly to the smaller districts.
However, Taylor rules with inertia show that this finding could also be due to the presence of an interest rate smoothing motive. Moreover, further tests confirm previous results by Chappell et al. (2008) who found that compared to the nationwide unemployment rate the district unemployment rate only has a small (negative) impact on FOMC members’ interest rate preferences. Overall, our findings support the view that the presence of a regional bias in the interest rate preferences of some Federal Reserve Bank Presidents is unlikely to have impeded on the Fed’s capacity to set interest rates with a nationwide focus.
Interesting stuff. We shall have some research on ECB as well when the minutes etc are published from next year onwards.
I had written blogpost on this outsourcing of currency function earlier. But am unable to locate it.
Nevertheless, Bank of England issued this press release informing that BoE has outsourced its currency function to a private firm. BOE has been outsourcing its currency printing function since 2003. This got me thinking of the earlier post.
Wow this is some publicity and hype.
How many times do we see central bankers of praise politicians and that too of of other nations? In this case it is actually a Regional Fed chair – Richard Fischer of Dallas Fed praising the not so new Indian PM. I just casually read Fischer praising Indian PM on some website. I thought it must have been just some comment. But no it is a speech titled Texas Jagannath (With Reference to Indian Prime Minister Modi, a Hindu Goddess and Wodehouse’s Big Money) .
The speech is given at US – India Chamber of Commerce:
I am so honored to have been invited to join Ambassador (S.) Jaishankar this evening to celebrate the U.S.–India Chamber of Commerce and its many distinguished awardees.
Mr. Ambassador, I am delighted you are here in Texas tonight. I am going to give you a few statistics in a moment that I think will make readily apparent the reason for this large audience and why so many Indian entrepreneurs and professionals come to Texas. Then I am going to give you a snapshot of where the U.S. economy is at present and what we are grappling with at the Fed. But first, with your indulgence, I want to briefly speak of the relationship between our two great countries, India and the United States.
The logic of an enhanced strategic relationship between my country and yours is crystal clear, beginning with a harsh geopolitical reality: You live in a tough neighborhood and need us; we, in turn, need all the friends we can muster in your geographic sphere. It seems very timely that we overcome the history that has separated us and begin working more closely together.
During the Cold War, it was the view of many in the United States that India was too closely allied with the Soviet Union. American businesses that looked at India found it afflicted with the legacy of the worst of British bureaucratic administration. (The old joke was that you could never get morning tee times at any Indian golf course because the bureaucrats had locked them up at least until noon).
From an Indian perspective, America seemed too hegemonic. Attempts by U.S. companies to invest and do business in your homeland revived memories of the East India Company.
We viewed each other through the lens of the time and against a background of our own histories, with suspicion.
But the (Berlin) Wall came down, the economy has been globalized and cyberized, and new threats to security have arisen, many of them from nonstate actors or forces who operate from within failed states to inflict damage elsewhere. This is a time for like-minded people to unite and work together.
We are like-minded in that we are democracies. But tonight we celebrate something even more fundamental. My reading of India is that, like in the U.S., your country men and women are more pragmatic and business-oriented than they are ideological or inherently bureaucratic.
The recent election of Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi offers the promise of making this abundantly clear. He was, after all, the chief minister for over a decade of the Gujarat, the most probusiness state in India. And almost every U.S. business leader I know has heard of Ratan Tata’s experience when he looked to Gujarat for an alternative to the frustration of his attempt to build a new car factory in West Bengal. As I understand it, Mr. Tata went to see Minister Modi, had a handshake deal in 30 minutes, and in 14 months the new factory was up and running. That almost makes Texas look like California by comparison!
So Mr. Ambassador, we are all watching for this first prime minister born since Independence to work his probusiness, nonbureaucratic, can-do spirit upon the whole of India. It is in America’s interest for India to thrive. We wish Prime Minister Modi, the government you represent with such distinction, and the Indian nation the very best of luck.
That is some marketing. One would expect such a speech from Texas Governor not Dallas Fed President.
How Yellen has become like a Hindu Goddess:
As you can see from this graphic, unemployment has declined to 6.2 percent, and the dynamics of the labor market are improving. At the Federal Open Market Committee, where we set monetary policy for the nation, we have been working to better understand these employment dynamics. This is no easy task. Bill Gross, one of our country’s preeminent bond managers, made a rather pungent comment about our efforts. He noted that President Harry Truman “wanted a one-armed economist, not the usual sort that analyzes every problem with ‘on the one hand, this, and on the other, that.’” Gross claimed that Fed Chair (Janet) Yellen, in her speech given recently at the Fed’s Jackson Hole, Wyo., conference, introduced so many qualifications about the status of the labor market that “instead of the proverbial two-handed economist, she more resembled a Hindu goddess with a half-dozen or more appendages.”
Whether you analyze the labor markets with one arm or two, or six or 19, the issue is how quickly we are approaching capacity utilization, so as to gauge price pressures. After all, a central bank is first and foremost charged with maintaining the purchasing power of its country’s currency. Like most central banks around the world, we view a 2 percent inflation rate as a decent intermediate-term target. Of late, the various inflation indexes have been beating around this mark. Just this last Friday, the personal consumption expenditure (PCE) index for July was released, and it clocked in at a 1 percent annualized rate, a pace less than the run rate of April through June.
Does this mean we are experiencing an inflation rate that is less than acceptable? I wonder. At the Dallas Fed, we calculate a trimmed mean inflation rate for personal consumption expenditures to get what we think is the best sense of the underlying inflation rate for the normal consumer. This means we trim out the most volatile price movements in the consumer basket to achieve the best sense we can of underlying price stability. In the July statistics, we saw some of the fastest rates of increases in a while for the largest, least-volatile components of core services, such as rent and purchased meals. So the jury is out as to whether we have seen a reversal in the recent upward ascent of prices toward our 2 percent target.
However, Hindu Goddesses with multiple hands are seen destroying some evil. In this case the evil is really unemployment and weak economy. Can Fed chair really do anything about destroying the evil?