Financial inclusion and optimal monetary policy

BIS Working Papers No 476
December 2014

Limited access to the formal financial sector is a common feature of the economic environment in many emerging market and developing economies. In this paper, we examine how the level of financial inclusion affects welfare-maximising monetary policy. Our theoretical framework is based on Galí, López-Salido and Vallés (2004). In this model, only financially included households are able to borrow and save to smooth consumption in the face of income volatility. We show that optimal monetary policy implies a positive relationship between the share of financially included households and the ratio of output volatility to inflation volatility. We find strong empirical support for the model's predictions using a broad cross-country dataset on financial inclusion. The  empirical results are driven primarily by central banks with a high degree of autonomy in their monetary policy decisions, who might be most likely to set monetary policy optimally.

JEL classification: E52, O23, G21

Keywords: financial inclusion; optimal monetary policy; limited asset market participation