We use controlled laboratory experiments to test the causal effects of central bank communication on economic expectations and to distinguish the underlying mechanisms of those effects. In an experiment where subjects learn to forecast economic variables, we find that central bank communication has a stabilizing effect on individual and aggregate outcomes and that the size of the effect varies with the type of communication.
This article describes experimental economics, in general, and new developments in experimental macroeconomics, in particular. The approach has a clear niche in providing evidence on economic phenomena that cannot be observed directly or that are difficult to measure. Experimental work conducted by Bank of Canada economists has shed light on a number of issues important to monetary policy, such as the relative efficacy between price-level and inflation targeting, and the nature of inflation expectations formation.
The effectiveness of monetary policy depends, to a large extent, on market expectations of its future actions. In a standard New Keynesian business-cycle model with rational expectations, systematic monetary policy reduces the variance of inflation and the output gap by at least two-thirds.