International Monetary Fund. Communications Department
As the Federal Reserve’s statutory objectives are defined as specific goals for the U.S. economy—to pursue maximum sustainable employment and price stability—and its policy decisions are targeted to achieve these dual objectives, there might seem to be little need for its policymakers to pay attention to developments outside the United States. But such an inference would be incorrect: the state of the U.S. economy is significantly affected by the state of the world economy, and of course, actions taken by the Federal Reserve influence economic conditions abroad, which in turn spill back on the evolution of the U.S. economy and therefore must be taken into account in the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy choices. This Per Jacobsson Lecture first reviews the effect of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies on the rest of the global economy, particularly emerging market economies. It then addresses prospective outcomes and possible risks associated with the normalization of the Federal Reserve’s policies. Finally, it discusses the Federal Reserve’s responsibilities in the world economy.
Since the grave disruption of the subprime market at the start of the global financial crisis triggered major turbulences in the functioning of money markets in all large advanced economies, central bankers have experienced extraordinarily demanding and difficult times, characterized by a succession of shocks unseen, in the advanced economies, since World War II. Given the structurally very different economies that central banks were dealing with, one could have expected that the shock of the crisis would have accentuated their differences and given rise to an even more diverse setof central bank policies, conceptual references, and measures in a selfish, inward-looking mode. Instead, however, a phenomenon of “practical and conceptual rapprochement” took place between central banks, amidst the economic and financial turmoil, with the closest central bank cooperation ever, as symbolically illustrated by the coordinated decrease of interest rates in October 2008. The crisis also started or accelerated a multidimensional process of convergence of key elements of monetary policy thinking and policymaking—“conceptual convergence”—that is far from being achieved, but calls for great attention from both academia and policymakers. This Per Jacobsson Lecture concentrates on this convergence process, reflecting as well on some theoretical and practical issues that are associated with unconventional monetary policy liquidity and quantitative measures and the forward guidance generalization, themselves part of the conceptual convergence phenomenon.