Managing Expectations without Rational Expectations
Should a policymaker offer forward guidance by committing to a path for the policy instrument or a target for an equilibrium outcome? We study how the optimal approach depends on plausible bounds on agents’ depth of knowledge and rationality. Agents make mistakes in predicting, or reasoning about, the behavior of others and the GE effects of policy. The optimal policy minimizes the bite of such mistakes on implementability and welfare. This goal is achieved by fixing and communicating an outcome target if and only if the GE feedback is strong enough. Our results suggest that central banks should stop talking about interest rates and start talking about unemployment when faced with a steep Keynesian cross or a prolonged liquidity trap.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25404