Bin Grace Li, Mr. Stephen A. O'Connell, Mr. Christopher S Adam, Mr. Andrew Berg, and Mr. Peter J Montiel
VAR methods suggest that the monetary transmission mechanism may be weak and unreliable in
low-income countries (LICs). But are structural VARs identified via short-run restrictions capable
of detecting a transmission mechanism when one exists, under research conditions typical of these
countries? Using small DSGEs as data-generating processes, we assess the impact on VAR-based
inference of short data samples, measurement error, high-frequency supply shocks, and other
features of the LIC environment. The impact of these features on finite-sample bias appears to be
relatively modest when identification is valid—a strong caveat, especially in LICs. However,
many of these features undermine the precision of estimated impulse responses to monetary policy
shocks, and cumulatively they suggest that “insignificant” results can be expected even when the
underlying transmission mechanism is strong.
This paper examines the impact of a monetary policy shock on output, prices, and the nominal effective exchange rate for Kenya using data during 1997–2005. Based on techniques commonly used in the vector autoregression literature, the main results suggest that an exogenous increase in the short-term interest rate tends to be followed by a decline in prices and appreciation in the nominal exchange rate, but has insignificant impact on output. Moreover, the paper finds that variations in the short-term interest rate account for significant fluctuations in the nominal exchange rate and prices, while accounting little for output fluctuations.