Research Department Working Paper n°33

Central bank communication: A quantitative assessment

This paper attempts to quantify the impact of central bank communication on macroeconomic variables using an purpose-built index.

In this paper we propose a new set of indicators of central bank’s communication to estimate speech intensity in five different fields: monetary conditions, financial stability, external competitiveness, labour and social conditions and economic activity. We develop an automated text-mining routine using the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) collection of speeches given by central bank senior executives. We use this set of indicators to compare goals and strategies across several central banks (the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Reserve Bank of Australia) from the late 1990s up to 2016. We then assess whether communication intensity is mirrored in central banks’ policy decisions. Our empirical results suggest that communication can be a complement or a substitute for monetary policy. In those periods in which communication is more efficient in managing expectations, central banks may have less need for reliance on the traditional policy rate.