The Present and Future of Monetary Policy Rules

Bennett T. McCallum

NBER Working Paper No. 7916
Issued in September 2000
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Monetary Economics

To consider the prospects, looking 20-30 years into the future, for monetary policymaking in accordance with policy rules, one must evaluate their present importance. That requires some definition of what constitutes rule-based monetary policy in practice, since no actual central bank will ever be literally bound by any simple formula (or any strict optimal control scheme). Consideration of the rules-versus-discretion literature, plus more recent analysis by Woodford (1999), indicates that rule-based policy is conducted to satisfy relationships specified from a timeless perspective.' Given this conception, it seems reasonably clear that today's prominent regimes (e.g., inflation targeting) do largely represent rule-based policymaking. Whether these will prevail into the future will depend in part on political trends, but their fundamental soundness gives room for hope. Regarding the effects of a gradually diminishing role of money, it would appear that the feasibility and attractiveness of rule-based policymaking will not be seriously impaired so long as a tangible medium of exchange has some importance, even if small. In the complete absence of monetary transactions, there would be no monetary policy of any type, rule-based or discretionary. But it seems highly unlikely that money will disappear in the foreseeable future.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7916

Published: McCallum, Bennett T, 2000. "The Present and Future of Monetary Policy Rules," International Finance, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 3(2), pages 273-86, July. citation courtesy of

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