Asset Prices and Central Bank Policy. Geneva Reports on the World Economy 2

How should central banks view movements in equity, housing and foreign exchange markets? Can policy-makers improve economic performance by paying attention to asset prices, as well as inflation and output forecasts? Is it possible to identify asset price misalignments and bubbles? Is it possible to use non-conventional policies to address asset price misalignments? Should asset prices be included directly in measures of inflation? Do asset prices contain information about future consumer price inflation? The second title in the ICMB/CEPR series of Geneva Reports on the World Economy addresses these questions and reaches the following conclusions: 1. A central bank concerned with stabilizing inflation can achieve superior performance by adjusting its policy instruments in response to asset prices as well as inflation forecasts and the output gap. The reaction to asset prices will, however, depend on why they have changed: appropriate responses to increases in productivity growth are very different from responses to misalignments or bubbles. 2. Asset price misalignments may be difficult to measure, but this is no reason to ignore them. 3. Most non-conventional policies, such as adjusting margin requirements, are unlikely to succeed in reducing asset price volatility. 4. Inflation measures should take better account of changes in housing prices, but stock price movements are better left out of inflation indices. 5. Asset prices have a strong effect on future inflation, although the impact differs across countries.