In this paper we propose an approach to identify indipendently the parameters describing the structure of the economy from the parameters describing central bank preferences. We first estimate the parameters describing the structure of the US economy by considering a parsimonious specification for inflation, the output-gap and the commodity price index. We then proceed to the identification of central bank preferences by estimating by GMM the Euler equations for the solution of the intertemporal optimization problem relevant to the central banker. We then compare optimal and actual interest rate behavior to select a structure of central banks preferences. Our main results are as follows. First, persistence in interest rates could be explained by the structure of the economy. Second, "strict" inflation targeting dominates "flexible" inflation targeting. Third, the actual behavior of the policy rates cannot be described by the pure "strict" inflation targeting model, which would imply a much more aggressive monetary policy than the observed one. Fourth, when the inflation targeting model is extended to consider Brainard-type uncertainty and real interest rates smoothing, the latter is preferred hypothesis to reconcile actual and optimal interest rates behavior.
Author(s): Carlo Ambrogio Favero (IGIER-Università Bocconi and CEPR), Riccardo Rovelli (Università di Bologna)