Central Bank Credibility: An Historical and Quantitative Exploration

Michael D. Bordo, Pierre L. Siklos

NBER Working Paper No. 20824
Issued in January 2015
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Monetary Economics

In this paper we provide empirical measures of central bank credibility and augment these with historical narratives from eleven countries. To the extent we are able to apply reliable institutional information we can also indirectly assess their role in influencing the credibility of the monetary authority. We focus on measures of inflation expectations, the mean reversion properties of inflation, and indicators of exchange rate risk. In addition we place some emphasis on whether credibility is particularly vulnerable during financial crises, whether its evolution is a function of the type of crisis or its kind (i.e., currency, banking, sovereign debt crises). We find credibility changes over time are frequent and can be significant. Nevertheless, no robust empirical connection between the size of an economic shock (e.g., the Great Depression) and loss of credibility is found. Second, the frequency with which the world economy experiences economic and financial crises, institutional factors (i.e., the quality of governance) plays an important role in preventing a loss of credibility. Third, credibility shocks are dependent on the type of monetary policy regime in place. Finally, credibility is most affected by whether the shock can be associated with policy errors.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20824

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