Central bankers in the United States and abroad must grapple with a broad array of questions about how best to conduct monetary policy. How much should the goal of price stability be emphasized relative to the goal of employment stability? Does central bank independence aid in achieving either or both of these goals? Does a stable, short-run trade-off between inflation and unemployment exist, and can it be exploited by a central bank? What instrument should the central bank manipulate in order to achieve its short-run and long-run goals?
In June of 1994, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston sponsored a conference to address these questions. The five papers presented fell into three broad areas: first, the efficiency of U.S. monetary policy; second, the usefulness of monetary aggregates for the conduct of monetary policy; and third, an examination of international evidence to shed light on questions of central bank independence and accountability. This article offers an overview of the five papers presented and the comments of the discussants.