Category Archives: Ekonomistas

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

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

Update: The Riksbank’s target achievement does not look better with CPIF and CPIX inflation, or with HICP inflation

Update of previous post, now with data through March 2015 and with HICP inflation. CPIF inflation has an upward bias, since it excludes the effect on inflation of mortgage rates trending down but includes the effect of housing prices trending up. Nevertheless, counter to what is sometimes argued, the Riksbank’s target achievement does not look better with either CPIF and CPIX inflation, or with HICP inflation.

Update of comparison of monetary policy in Sweden, the Eurozone, the UK, and the US

A previous post has been updated with new figures comparing the policy rates, inflation rates, and real policy rates in Sweden, the Eurozone, the UK, and the US. The Riksbank’s real policy rate increased by 3.5 percentage points to plus 1 during 2010-2011, whereas the real policy rates stayed low and negative in the other economies. According to this measure, the Riksbank’s policy was extremely tight during 2010-2013. More recently, the real policy rates has fallen in Sweden and risen in the other economies except the US.  Continue reading

Harry Flam: Missing minutes of Riksbank monetary policy meeting

This is an English translation of an Ekonomistas post.

The current Riksbank monetary policy is inconsistent. This creates uncertainty, which in turn weakens the efficiency of monetary policy. The detailed minutes of the monetary policy meetings are an important part of the Riksbank’s communication policy. Oddly enough, such minutes are missing from the Riksbank’s latest monetary policy decision, creating additional uncertainty about monetary policy. It is important that monetary policy is clear and credible. This increases the Riksbank’s power to create consensus among economic decision makers about the economic outlook and thereby reduce uncertainty, which is good for the economy.

Continue reading

Stefan Palmqvist: A contradictory monetary policy

This is an English translation of a Swedish Ekonomistas guest post  by Stefan Palmqvist, PhD, who works as an advisor at Finansinspektionen (the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority). The opinions expressed are his own and not necessarily those of anyone else at Finansinspektionen.

In a post on Ekonomistas (in Swedish), Mats Persson discusses if the Riksbank should use more weapons than the repo rate. Mats argues that such actions would not do any harm at present, but that they also would not do much good. I mean that they certainly can do harm. The Riksbank’s current interest rate path indicates that the repo rate will be increased, while the Riksbank at the same time buys government bonds to bring down interest rates in general and to weaken the krona. With such a contradictory monetary policy the Riksbank’s possibility to influence expectations is reduced, which in turn can make it difficult to achieve the inflation target.  Continue reading

“A very expansionary monetary policy” – ignorance or disinformation?

English translation of Ekonomistas post.

An odd thing is the Riksbank’s repeated assertions, if not nagging, about how expansionary the Riksbank’s monetary policy is supposed to be. “A very expansionary monetary policy,” it says in the Monetary Policy Update December 2014, and so said the Governor Ingves at the press conference after the policy announcement. But according to what criterion would monetary policy be expansionary? According to standard criteria, including comparisons with other countries, the Riksbank’s monetary policy is by no means expansionary, but by all accounts quite contractionary. One may ask whether the Riksbank’s repeated assertions are due to ignorance or is an example of disinformation.  Continue reading

The Riksbank conceals that international studies contradicts its claim about debt

English translation of Ekonomistas post (in Swedish)

International studies have shown that economic downturns that are preceded by a large increase in household debt tend to be deeper and more protracted. The Riksbank claims, however, that a high level of household debt leads to deeper economic downturns. The Riksbank refers to some international studies that are supposed to support its claim. But the Riksbank conceals that these studies rather contradict the Riksbank’s claim. This is yet another example that the Riksbank’s documents and reports, with Harry Flam’s words (in Swedish), are not “comprehensive, professional and impartial, but seem to be doctored to support a particular view.”  Continue reading

Currency depreciation with a binding lower bound for the policy rate

[English translation of Ekonomistas post (in Swedish).]

When the policy rate has reached its lower bound (which is not necessarily zero, but perhaps minus 0.25 or even minus 0.50 percent), there are in addition to forward guidance about the future policy rate several so-called unconventional means to pursue more expansionary monetary policy, if needed. They include asset purchases (balance sheet policies) and exchange-rate policy. As inflation in Sweden has been around zero for several years, and unemployment has remained very high, such unconventional means may well be needed for the Riksbank to fulfill its mandate to stabilize both inflation around the inflation target and resource utilization around a long-run sustainable level.

The recent experience of the Czech National Bank may be very relevant in this context. The CNB has in the last year, in a situation with a binding lower bound for the policy rate, made an apparently successful monetary policy experiment by depreciating the Czech currency and introducing an exchange-rate floor in order to better meet its inflation target and get the economy out of its long recession. Continue reading

Difficult for Deputy Governor Per Jansson to defend the Riksbank

English translation of Ekonomistas post.

In a recent speech, Deputy Governor Per Jansson presents old arguments that I have already responded to, in an attempt to defend the Riksbank’s monetary policy and to criticize its by now several critics. One might think that Jansson might use his time to learn from the Riksbank’s mistakes instead of trying to attack its critics. In any case, a close examination of the facts and data shows that Jansson’s defense of the Riksbank fails.  Continue reading

Major differences between the majority and minority of the Riksbank Executive Board

English translation of Ekonomistas blog in Swedish.

There has been a somewhat odd discussion about how much the majority and minority of the Riksbank Executive Board actually differed with regard to monetary policy from the summer of 2010 when the interest rate increases began. For instance, it has been claimed that I just wanted to have a marginally lower policy rate than the majority and that I wanted to raise rates almost as fast as the majority. But these claims have missed the fact that my policy-rate paths were only the first step towards a better monetary policy, not the only step. Above all, they have missed the fact that there were large  principle differences between the majority and minority on how to conduct monetary policy. In this post I explain my reasoning, the policies my line of reasoning would have led to if I had had the majority with me, and how instead the majority came to turn monetary policy upside down.  Continue reading

Does a trivial econometric error explain why Andersson and Jonung get different results?

Does a trivial econometric error explain why Andersson and Jonung (2014) get different estimates of a Swedish Phillips curve than the very robust estimates that I get in Svensson (2015)? Yes, their trivial error is not to have done the standard test for weak instruments when using regressions with instrumental variables. Their instruments soundly fail the standard Cragg-Donald F-test. Their instruments are weak and as a consequence it is their estimates of the Phillips curve that are unreliable, not mine. See this note.

(A previous response in English to their criticism is available here.)