Wordscores uses word frequencies to extract information from texts with known policy positions. Wordscores uses this information to estimate the unknown policy positions of so ‐ called virgin texts. We apply Wordscores to the ECB President’s introductory statements following Governing Council meetings. We code policy positions of statements from the first three years of the Economic and Monetary Union (our reference texts) using various indicators of ECB communication as well as actual rate decisions. Treating introductory statements from 2002 to July 2009 as virgin texts, Wordscores is able to present a fairly accurate picture of ECB policy decisions during that period. The results also suggest changes in ECB communications occurred: using more introductory statements as reference texts improves the match between estimated positions and actual policy. Overall, we would characterize ECB communication during the first decade of EMU as internally consistent. At the same time, communication was flexible enough to adapt to changed circumstances.
Keywords: central bank communication, ECB, consistency, content analysis.
JEL Classification: E52, E58.