Monetary Targeting revisited
Florian Kern, Philippa Sigl-Glöckner, Max Krahé
Central banks define a monetary policy strategy in which they set out the instruments they use to achieve their monetary policy objectives as well as the incoming data they take into account when using these instruments. Independent central banks in particular are expected to provide a detailed and comprehensible explanation of their monetary policy strategy, since the absence of direct democratic legitimation comes along with particular accountability requirements.
Since the end of the Bretton Woods system, both the Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) and the Deutsche Bundesbank, and later the European Central Bank (ECB), have made significant changes to their monetary policy strategy. In the 1970s, both the Bundesbank and the Fed pursued, at least officially, a monetary targeting strategy. We explain the analytical fallacies that underlay this strategy and the ideological assumptions that paved its way into practice. It is still unclear why a framework that is incoherent even at the theoretical level has been upheld for so long. It is conceivable that path dependency and a negative error culture played a role. Accordingly, we propose an evaluation of monetary policy strategy and its changes since 1973 with the aim of identifying and remedying relevant institutional weaknesses. The evaluation should also aim at clarifying whether monetary targeting resulted in institutional choices that continue to prevent monetary policy from achieving the Union’s stated objectives in an optimal manner to this day. Considering that the quantity theory of money underlying monetary targeting is also propagated by supporters of cryptocurrencies, who use it specifically to attack the legitimacy of central banks, a reappraisal of the theory should also help to strengthen trust in central banks and reduce the damage caused by cryptocurrencies.
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