September 2015 issue contents
Is Optimal Monetary Policy Always Optimal?

by Troy Daviga, Refet S. G├╝rkaynakb


In a world with multiple inefficiencies, the single policy tool the central bank has control over will not undo all inefficiencies; this is well established. We argue that the world is better characterized by multiple inefficiencies and multiple policymakers with various objectives. Asking the policy question only in terms of optimal monetary policy effectively turns the central bank into the residual claimant of all policy and gives the other policymakers a free hand in pursuing their own goals. This further worsens the trade-offs faced by the central bank. The optimal monetary policy literature and the optimal simple rules often labeled flexible inflation targeting assign all of the cyclical policymaking duties to central banks. This distorts the policy discussion and narrows the policy choices to a sub-optimal set. We highlight this issue and call for a broader thinking of optimal policies.

JEL Codes: E61, E52, E58, E02.

Full article (PDF, 32 pages, 415 kb)

Discussion by Athanasios Orphanides

a Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City 
b Bilkent University, CEPR, CFS, and CESifo