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CEP discussion paper
Publicity of Debate and the Incentive to Dissent: Evidence from the US Federal Reserve
Ellen E. Meade and David Stasavage
January 2004
Paper No' CEPDP0608:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: E42; E58; E65

Tags: transparency; central banking; career concerns

When central banks are transparent about their decision making, there may be clear benefits in terms of credibility, policy effectiveness, and improved democratic accountability. While recent literature has focused on all of these advantages of transparency, in this paper we consider one potential cost: the possibility that publishing detailed records of deliberations will make members of a monetary policy committee more reluctant to offer dissenting opinions. Drawing on the recent literature on expert advisors with ¿career concerns¿, we construct a model that compares incentives for members of a monetary policy committee to voice dissent when deliberations occur in public, and when they occur in private. We then test the implications of the model using an original dataset based on deliberations of the Federal Reserve¿s Federal Open Market Committee, asking whether the FOMC¿s decision in 1993 to begin releasing full transcripts of its meetings has altered incentives for participants to voice dissenting opinions. We find this to be the case with regard to both opinions on shortterm interest rates and on the ¿bias¿ for future policy.