Abstract

This paper considers the contacting approach to central banking in the context of a simple common agency model. The recent literature on optimal contracts suggests that the political principal of the central bank can design the appropriate incentive schemes that remedy for time-inconsistency problems in monetary policy. The effectiveness of such contracts, however, requires a central banker that attaches a positive weight to the incentive scheme. As a result, delegating monetary policy under such circumstances gives rise to the possibility that the central banker may respond to incentive schemes offered by other potential principals. We introduce common agency considerations in the design of optimal central banker contracts. We introduce two principals - society (government) and an interest group, whose objectives conflict with society's and we examine under what circumstances the government-offered or the interest-group-offered contract dominates. Our results largely depend on the type of bias that the interest group contract incorporates. In particular, when the interest group contract incorporates an inflationary bias the outcome depends on the principals' relative concern of the incentive schemes' costs. When the interest group contract incorporates an expansionary bias, however, it always dominates the government contract. A corollary of our results is that central banker contracts aiming to remove the expansionary bias of policymakers should be written explicitly in terms of the perceived bias.

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