NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Crucial Issues Concerning Central Bank Independence

Bennett T. McCallum

NBER Working Paper No. 5597
Issued in May 1996
NBER Program(s):   EFG   ME

This paper argues, first, that it is inappropriate to presume that central banks will, in the absence of any tangible precommitment technology, inevitably behave in a `discretionary' fashion that implies an inflationary bias. Furthermore, there is no necessary tradeoff between `flexibility and commitment.' Second, to the extent that the absence of any precommitment technology is nevertheless a problem, it will apply to a consolidated central bank-plus-government entity as well as to the central bank alone. Thus contracts between governments and central banks do not overcome the motivation for dynamic inconsistency, they merely relocate it. Several implications are discussed.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5597

Published: Journal of Monetary Economics, Vol. 39, no. 1 (June 1997): 99-112.

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