Do People Understand Monetary Policy?


Carlos Carvalho

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2012-01 | April 1, 2014

We combine questions from the Michigan Survey about future information, unemployment, and interest rates to investigate whether households are aware of the basic features of U.S. monetary policy. Our findings provide evidence that some households form their expectations in a way that is consistent with a Taylor (1993)-type rule. We also document a large degree of variation in the pattern of responses over the business cycle. In particular, the negative relationship between unemployment and interest rates that is apparent in the data only shows up in households’ answers during periods of labor market weakness.

Article Citation

Carvalho, Carlos, and Fernanda Nechio. 2012. “Do People Understand Monetary Policy?,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Working Paper 2012-01. Available at

About the Author
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Fernanda Nechio is a vice president in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Learn more about Fernanda Nechio