JT points out that the legislation isn’t designed to pressure the Fed to follow the Taylor Rule. This defence is hollow. JT thinks the crisis was caused by deviating from it, and supports the legislation. Even in the same post he refers to research extolling its performance in macro models. Clearly he thinks future Fed policy would improve, the appropriate metric being closeness to the Taylor Rule. Asserting that it would not get him everything he wants does not refute the main point.
JT makes reference in support of his Bill to the literature on rules versus discretion. I think this does him no favours for a few reasons.
First, we have to dispense with the part of that literature that concerns itself with the tendency for pure discretion to induce too high levels of average inflation. That’s not at issue here given the Feds price stability mandate.
The relevant part concerns how to eliminate the ‘stabilisation bias’, the tendency for discretion to induce ineffective over-smoothing of the cycle.
Studies do show a benefit of commitment over discretion. But these benefits are not that large and its arguable whether they can be achieved.
Even more contentious is whether suboptimal policy under commitment (Taylor rule) dominates optimal policy under discretion. I’d guess it would be a close run thing.
Finally, the dynamic rules versus discretion comparison is conducted under certainty. Under something that captured the profound model uncertainty the crisis revealed, these benefits could well disappear.
JT does not address the concern that his legislation makes it easier for political and discretionary interference to be brought to bear on operational matters. It erodes Fed independence over policy conduct, judged bad by reasoning from the rules versus discretion logic. Less fed discretion, more political discretion.
JT also defends his TR agenda against the accusation that the zero bound was not ignored. But he does not respond to the observation that theoretically at least religious adherence to the TR induces a trap at that bound. It’s easy to dismiss this concern: the model (in which ignoring the bad steady state gives good performance for the TR) is not nearly true. But then we have to reduce our confidence in the rule’s appropriateness.
JT continues to maintain that the crisis was caused by TR deviancy. Yet the models in which the TR does well have no financial sector that could produce systemic financial crises. Those models suggest TR deviancy has small and short lasting effects that many economist would dismiss (not me actually) as not worth bothering about. But they can’t produce 2 decade long Real balance sheet and leverage accumulation, followed by a bust.
Repeating my earlier points, the crisis does not teach us about the costs of TR deviancy, it reminded us that we are much further than we thought from having perfected what used to be dubbed a ‘science of monetary policy’, and nowhere near the point where an institution could credibly commit, on the basis of sound evidence, to a monetary policy rule.