Riksbank WP No. 417 on Central Bank Mandates

Central Bank Mandates and Monetary Policy Stances: through the Lens of Federal Reserve Speeches” with Isaiah Hull, Robin Lumsdaine and Xin Zhang

  • Abstract: When does the Federal Reserve deviate from its dual mandate of pursuing the economic goals of maximum employment and price stability and what are the consequences? We assemble the most comprehensive collection of Federal Reserve speeches to-date and apply state-of- the-art natural language processing methods to extract a variety of textual features from each paragraph of each speech. We find that the periodic emergence of non-dual mandate related discussions is an important determinant of time-variations in the historical conduct of monetary policy with implications for asset returns. The period from mid-1996 to late-2010 stands out as the time with the narrowest focus on balancing the dual mandate. Prior to the 1980s there was a outsized attention to employment and output growth considerations, while non dual-mandate discussions centered around financial stability considerations emerged after the Great Financial Crisis. Forward-looking financial stability concerns are a particularly important driver of a less accommodative monetary policy stance when Fed officials link these concerns to monetary policy, rather than changes in banking regulation. Conversely, discussions about current financial crises and monetary policy in the context of inflation-employment themes are associated with a more accommodative policy stance. (C63, D84, E32, E7)
The figure above shows a word cloud of concerning terms that appear in statements with low dual mandate content scores during the period 1984-2017. Such statements are identifed using extractive question answering with the RoBERTa model.
  • Keywords: Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, Central Bank Communication, Financial Stability, Zero Shot Classification, Extractive Question Answering, Semantic Textual Similarity.

Forthcoming in the Journal of International Money and Finance: “Spread the Word: International Spillovers from Central Bank Communication”

“Spread the Word: International Spillovers from Central Bank Communication” with Hanna Armelius, Isaiah Hull and Xin Zhang, Journal of International Money and Finance, Volume 103, Pages 1-32, May 2020. – Lead article –

    • Abstract: We construct a novel text dataset to measure the sentiment component of communications for 23 central banks over the 2002-2017 period. Our analysis yields three results. First, comovement in sentiment across central banks is not reducible to trade or financial flow exposures. Second, sentiment shocks generate cross-country spillovers in sentiment, policy rates, and macroeconomic variables; and the Fed appears to be a uniquely influential generator of such spillovers, even among prominent central banks. And third, geographic distance is a robust and economically significant determinant of comovement in central bank sentiment, while shared language and colonial ties have weaker predictive power. (JEL E52, E58, F42)

The figure show the normalized rolling net sentiment scores associated with ECB speeches. Sentiment scores are computed using a dictionary-based approach documented in Loughran and McDonald (2011).

New version of “Spread the Word: International Spillovers from Central Bank Communication”

“Spread the Word: International Spillovers from Central Bank Communication” with Hanna Armelius, Isaiah Hull and Xin Zhang (all at Sveriges Riksbank)
(This version: 05/2019; First version: 09/2018; Sveriges Riksbank Working Paper No. 357)

  • Abstract:

We construct a novel text dataset to measure the sentiment component of communications for 23 central banks over the 2002-2017 period. Our analysis yields three results. First, comovement in sentiment across central banks is not reducible to trade or financial flow exposures. Second, sentiment shocks generate cross-country spillovers in sentiment, policy rates, and macroeconomic variables; and the Fed appears to be a uniquely influential generator of such spillovers, even among prominent central banks. And third, geographic distance is a robust and economically significant determinant of comovement in central bank sentiment, while shared language and colonial ties have weaker predictive power. (JEL E52, E58, F42)

  • Keywords: communication, monetary policy, international policy transmission.

New working paper on “International Spillovers from Central Bank Communication”

“Spread the Word: International Spillovers from Central Bank Communication” with Hanna Armelius, Isaiah Hull and Xin Zhang (all at Sveriges Riksbank)
(This version: 09/2018; First version: 09/2018; Sveriges Riksbank Working Paper No. 357)

  • Abstract:

We use text analysis and a novel dataset to measure the sentiment component of central bank communications in 23 countries over the 2002-2017 period. Our analysis yields three key results. First, using directed networks, we show that comovement in sentiment across central banks is not reducible to trade or financial flow exposure. Second, we find that geographic distance is a robust and economically significant determinant of comovement in central bank sentiment, while shared language and colonial ties are economically significant, but less robust. Third, we use structural VARs to show that sentiment shocks generate cross-country spillovers in sentiment, policy rates, and macroeconomic variables. We also find that the Fed plays a uniquely influential role in generating such sentiment spillovers, while the ECB is primarily influenced by other central banks. Overall, our results suggest that central bank communication contains systematic biases that could lead to suboptimal policy outcomes. (JEL E52, E58, F42)

  • Keywords: communication, monetary policy, international policy transmission.

New paper on online lending and monetary policy; Sveriges Riksbank Working Paper Series No. 319

“Fed Liftoff and Subprime Loan Interest Rates: Evidence from the Peer-to-Peer Lending Market” with Isaiah Hull (Sveriges Riksbank) and Xin Zhang (Sveriges Riksbank) (First version: March 2016)

  • Abstract:

On December 16th of 2015, the Fed initiated “liftoff,” raising the federal funds rate range by 25 basis points and ending a 7-year regime of near-zero rates. We use a unique dataset of 640,000 loan-hour observations to measure the impact of liftoff on interest rates in the peer-to-peer lending segment of the subprime market. We find that the average interest rate dropped by 16.9-22.6 basis points. This holds for 14 and 28 day windows centered around liftoff, and is robust to the inclusion of time dummies and a broad set of loan-level controls. We also find that the spread between high and low credit rating borrowers decreased by 16% and demonstrate that this was not generated by a change in the composition of borrowers along observable dimensions. Furthermore, we find no evidence that either result was driven by a collapse in demand for funds. Our results are consistent with an investor-perceived reduction in default probabilities; and suggest that liftoff provided a strong, positive signal about the future solvency of subprime borrowers, reducing their borrowing cost, even as short term rates increased in other markets.

  • Keywords: peer-to-peer lending, subprime consumer loans, Fed liftoff, monetary policy signaling, default channel, household debt.