Rules, Discretion and Reputation in a Model of Monetary Policy

Robert J. Barro, David B. Gordon

NBER Working Paper No. 1079 (Also Reprint No. r0448)
Issued in February 1983
NBER Program(s):   EFG

In a discretionary regime the monetary authority can print more money and create more inflation than people expect. But, although these inflation surprises can have some benefits, they cannot arise systematically in equilibrium when people understand the policymaker's incentives and form their expectations accordingly. Because the policymaker has the power to create inflation shocks ex post, the equilibrium growth rates of money and prices turn out to be higher than otherwise. Therefore, enforced commitments (rules) for monetary behavior can improve matters. Given the repeated interaction between the policymaker and the private agents, it is possible that reputational forces can substitute for formal rules.Here, we develop an example of a reputational equilibrium where the out-comes turn out to be weighted averages of those from discretion and those from the ideal rule. In particular, the rates of inflation and monetary growth look more like those under discretion when the discount rate is high.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w1079

Published: Barro, Robert J. and David B. Gordon. "Rules, Discretion and Reputation ina Model of Monetary Policy." Journal of Monetary Economics, Vol. 12, No. 1,(July 1983), pp. 101-121. citation courtesy of

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