Taking stock of new Fed and ECB monetary policy frameworks

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The U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank have crafted new monetary policy frameworks for an era in which interest rates are hovering close to zero. The Fed’s flexible average inflation targeting approach aims at inflation that averages 2% over time; when inflation has been running persistently below that level, the Fed will aim for inflation moderately above 2% for some time. It also aims at a “broad-based and inclusive” definition of maximum employment. The ECB says its goal is inflation of 2% over the medium term, and it describes its commitment to this target as symmetric (meaning it would be equally concerned about below- and above-target inflation). Are these new frameworks well understood by markets, businesses, consumers, and politicians? Have the central banks communicated them well? How have these frameworks been implemented so far? Are they well-suited for the current economic environment?

The Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy at Brookings hosted a discussion of these issues by Richard Clarida, vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board; Philip Lane, member of the ECB’s Executive Board; and Ben Bernanke, distinguished senior fellow at Brookings and former chair of the Federal Reserve. Following that discussion was a panel of Fed watchers—Julia Coronado of Macro Policy Perspectives; William Dudley, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and Tiffany Wilding of PIMCO.

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