On the occasion of the 65th birthday of Governor Klaus Liebscher and in recognition of his commitment to Austria’s participation in European monetary union and to the cause of European integration, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) established a “Klaus Liebscher Award”. It will be offered annually as of 2005 for up to two excellent scientific papers on European monetary union and European integration issues. The authors must be less than 35 years old and be citizens from EU member or EU candidate countries. The “Klaus Liebscher Award” is worth EUR 10,000 each. The winners of the second Award 2006 were Petra Geraats and Marek Jarocinski. Petra Geraats’ winning paper is presented in this Working Paper, while Marek Jarocinski’s contribution is contained in Working Paper 124.
In this paper Petra Geraats argues that despite the recent trend towards greater transparency of monetary policy, in many respects mystique still prevails in central bank speak. It is shown that the resulting perception of ambiguity could be desirable. Under the plausible assumption of imperfect common knowledge about the degree of central bank transparency, economic outcomes are affected by both the actual and perceived degree of transparency. It is shown that actual transparency is beneficial while it may be useful to create the perception of opacity. The optimal communication strategy for the central bank is to provide clarity about the inflation target and to communicate information about the output target and supply shocks with perceived ambiguity. In this respect, the central bank benefits from sustaining transparency misperceptions, which helps to explain the mystique of central bank speak.