Working Papers

2019-02 | November 2019

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Taking the Fed at its Word: A New Approach to Estimating Central Bank Objectives using Text Analysis

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We propose a new approach to estimating central bank preferences, including the implicit inflation target, that requires no priors on the underlying macroeconomic structure nor observation of monetary policy actions. Our approach entails directly estimating the central bank's objective function from the sentiment expressed by policymakers in their internal meetings. We apply the approach to the objective function of the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). The results challenge two key aspects of conventional wisdom regarding FOMC preferences. First, the FOMC had an implicit inflation target of approximately 1½ percent on average over our baseline 2000 - 2013 sample period, which was below average realized inflation. Second, the FOMC’s loss depends strongly on output growth and stock market performance and less so on their perception of the current economic slack.

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Article Citation

Shapiro, Adam Hale, and Daniel Wilson. 2019. "Taking the Fed at its Word: A New Approach to Estimating Central Bank Objectives using Text Analysis," Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Working Paper 2019-02. Available at https://doi.org/10.24148/wp2019-02