DP5626 Central Banking by Committee

Author(s): Anne Sibert
Publication Date: April 2006
Keyword(s): committee size, groupthink, social loafing
JEL(s): E50, E58
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5626

There is a small, but growing, economics literature on the importance and effects of having monetary policy made by a committee, rather than by an individual. Complimenting this is an older and larger body of literature on groups in the other social sciences, particular in social psychology. This paper provides a review of some of this work, focussing on two important features of committees: the effect of their size on performance and whether or not they are more moderate than the members who make them up. The results of the literature on committee size and committee polarization suggest that the ideal monetary policy committee may not have many more than five members. It should have a well-defined objective and it should publish the votes of its members. It should be structured so that members do not act as part of a group, perhaps by having short terms in office and members from outside the central bank. External scrutiny of the decision-making process should be encouraged.