Transparency and Deliberation Within the FOMC: A Computational Linguistics Approach

May 2018

The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 133, Issue. 2, p. 801–870

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjx045

Stephen Hansen  Michael McMahon  Andrea Prat

How does transparency, a key feature of central bank design, affect monetary policy makers’ deliberations? Theory predicts a positive discipline effect and negative conformity effect. We empirically explore these effects using a natural experiment in the Federal Open Market Committee in 1993 and computational linguistics algorithms. We first find large changes in communication patterns after transparency. We then propose a difference-in-differences approach inspired by the career concerns literature, and find evidence for both effects. Finally, we construct an influence measure that suggests the discipline effect dominates.