FOMC minutes: Costs of leaning against the wind typically outweigh benefits

FOMC April 26-27 minutes on the relationship between monetary policy and financial stability (pp. 2-3):

Most participants judged that the benefits of using monetary policy to address threats to financial stability would typically be outweighed by the costs associated with deviations from the Committee’s employment and price-stability objectives induced by such actions; some also noted that the benefits are highly uncertain.

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The rationale for macroprudential policy

The Rationale for Macroprudential Policy,” slides for opening speech at the First Annual ECB Macroprudential Policy and Research Conference, April 26-27, 2016.

Background paper 1. “Monetary policy and macroprudential policy: Different and separate.”
Background paper 2. “Cost-Benefit Analysis of Leaning Against the Wind : Are Costs Larger Also with Less Effective Macroprudential Policy?

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Svar på Goodfriend och Kings utvärdering av Riksbankens penningpolitik 2010-2015

Remissvar på Goodfriend och Kings utvärdering av Riksbankens penningpolitik (English summary)

Jag instämmer i utredarnas kritik att Riksbanksmajoriteten med en problematisk strategi fört en för stram penningpolitik efter 2011 och medvetet ha utnyttjat överoptimistiska inflationsprognoser för att motivera en högre ränta. Jag avvisar utredarnas påstående att majoritetens stora penningpolitiska åtstramning 2010-2011 skulle varit rimlig i ljuset av tillgänglig information och återhämtningen efter krisen. Jag avvisar också utredarnas påstående att minoriteten i det stora hela skulle ha godtagit åtstramningen, eftersom den vid varje möte röstade för en måttligt lägre ränta och räntebana. Minoriteten följde en enkel och robust handlingsregel. Enligt denna skulle ränta och räntebana sänkas ett steg vid varje möte så länge som inflationsprognosen låg under målet och arbetslöshetsprognosen låg över arbetslöshetens långsiktigt hållbara nivå. Detta framkommer tydligt i protokoll och tal. Minoritetens lägre ränta och räntebana var således bara det första steget, inte det enda steget, mot en väl avvägd penningpolitik. Utredarnas rekommendationer kommenteras utförligt i mitt remissvar, men jag ser inte att deras rekommendationer skulle lösa problemen med den svenska penningpolitiken. För att lösa problemen bör Finansutskottet förtydliga Riksbankens i Riksbankslagen och dess förarbeten formulerade mandat till att vara prisstabilitet och full sysselsättning, stärka den demokratiska kontrollen av Riksbanken samt ytterligare klargöra Sveriges genomtänkta ansvarsfördelning för makrotillsyn.  Continue reading

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Response to Goodfriend and King’s review of Riksbank monetary policy 2010-2015

Consultation response (in Swedish) (Swedish summary)

I agree with Goodfriend and King’s criticism that the Riksbank majority, because of concerns about household debt, pursued too tight monetary policy after 2011 and deliberately used over-optimistic inflation forecasts to justify a higher policy rate. I reject Goodfriend and King’s claim that the majority’s large monetary tightening 2010-2011 was justified in the light of available information and the recovery after the crisis. I also reject Goodfriend and King’s claim that the tightening 2010-2011 was broadly accepted by the minority (Karolina Ekholm and me), because we at each policy meeting only voted for a moderately lower policy interest rate and policy-rate path.The minority followed a simple and robust policy rule. According to this, the policy rate and policy-rate path should be lowered one step at each meeting, as long as the inflation forecast was below the target and the unemployment forecast was above the long-run sustainable unemployment rate. This is clear from the minutes and speeches. The minority’s lower policy rate and policy-rate path at each policy meeting was thus just the first step, not the only step towards a well-balanced monetary policy. Goodfriend and King’s recommendations are commented in more detail in my consultation response, but I do not see that their recommendations would solve the problems with Swedish monetary policy. In order to solve the problems the Finance Committee should clarify that the Riksbank’s mandate, as formulated in the Riksbank Act and its preparatory works, is price stability and full employment. The Finance Committee should also strengthen the democratic control of the Riksbank and further clarify assignment of responsibilities in the current well thought-out framework for macroprudential policy.  Continue reading

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Amortization Requirements May Increase Household Debt : A Simple Example

Amortization Requirements May Increase Household Debt : A Simple Example,” IMF Working Paper No. 16/83, April 2016.

The idea is very simple. If you like to have a mortgage of SEK 2 million the next 10 years, you would take out an interest-only mortgage of SEK 2 million now and keep it for 10 years. However, if you learn that new amortization requirements imply that you have to pay back 2 percent of the initial mortgage every year,  you would prefer to borrow SEK 2.5 million now, put the extra SEK 0.5 million in a savings account, and then use withdrawals from the savings account to amortize 2 percent of SEK 2.5 million each year, that is, SEK 50,000 each year and SEK 500,000 in 10 years. Thus, if an LTV cap is not binding you would borrow SEK 2.5 million, or as much as the LTV cap allows you to borrow.   Continue reading

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Goodfriend and King misreport the monetary policy stance of the minority

In their review of Riksbank monetary policy, Goodfriend and King make a big point of the minority (Karolina Ekholm and me) having voted for policy rates only 0.25 percentage point below the majority and use that to argue that the rate hikes 2010-2011 were “broadly accepted by all members of Executive Board.”  But they fail to report that the monetary policy stance, appropriately measured, that the minority voted for was substantially more expansionary than the majority’s (not to speak of that it was only a first step of several needed in a move toward a better monetary policy). They thus fail to report the position of the minority correctly. For instance, in September 2011, the minority voted for a policy stance equivalent to a repo rate 1.5 percentage point lower the next 4 quarters than the majority’s stance.  Continue reading

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