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The reform of October 1979: how it happened and why

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  • David E. Lindsey
  • Athanasios Orphanides
  • Robert H. Rasche

Abstract

This study offers a historical review of the monetary policy reform of October 6, 1979, and discusses the influences behind it and its significance. We lay out the record from the start of 1979 through the spring of 1980, relying almost exclusively on contemporaneous sources, including the recently released transcripts of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings during 1979. We then present and discuss in detail the reasons for the FOMC's adoption of the reform and the communications challenge presented to the Committee during this period. Further, we examine whether the essential characteristics of the reform were consistent with monetarism; new, neo, or old-fashioned Keynesianism; nominal income targeting; and inflation targeting. The record suggests that the reform was adopted when the FOMC became convinced that its earlier gradualist strategy using finely tuned interest rate moves had proved inadequate for fighting inflation and reversing inflation expectations. The new plan had to break dramatically with established practice, allow for the possibility of substantial increases in short-term interest rates yet be politically acceptable, and convince financial market participants that it would be effective. The new operating procedures were also adopted for the pragmatic reason that they would likely succeed.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2005)
Issue (Month): Mar ()
Pages: 187-236

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2005:i:mar:p:187-236:n:v.87no.2,pt.2

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Keywords: Monetary policy ; Federal Open Market Committee ; Federal Reserve System - History;

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References

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  1. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2003. "The decline of activist stabilization policy: natural rate misperceptions, learning, and expectations," Working Paper Series 2003-24, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. Tinsley, P. A. & von zur Muehlen, P. & Fries, G., 1982. "The short-run volatility of money stock targeting," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 215-237.
  3. Marvin Goodfriend, 1985. "Monetary mystique : secrecy and central banking," Working Paper 85-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  4. Lindsey, David E. & Farrx, Helen T. & Gillum, Gary P. & Kopecky, Kenneth J. & Porter, Richard D., 1984. "Short-run monetary control : Evidence under a non-borrowed reserve operating procedure," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 87-111, January.
  5. John B. Taylor, 1999. "A Historical Analysis of Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 319-348 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Johannes, James M & Rasche, Robert H, 1981. "Can the Reserves Approach to Monetary Control Really Work?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 13(3), pages 298-313, August.
  7. Frederic S. Mishkin & Adam S. Posen, 1998. "Inflation Targeting: Lessons from Four Countries," NBER Working Papers 6126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. anonymous, 1990. "Membership of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jul, pages 591-592.
  9. Athanasios Orphanides and Simon van Norden, 2001. "The Reliability of Inflation Forecasts Based on Output Gaps in Real Time," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 247, Society for Computational Economics.
  10. Sivesind, Charles & Hurley, Kevin, 1980. "Choosing an Operating Target for Monetary Policy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 199-203, February.
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  13. Athanasios Orphanides, 2001. "Monetary policy rules, macroeconomic stability and inflation: a view from the trenches," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-62, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  17. Poole, William, 1985. "On Consequences and Criticisms of Monetary Targeting: Comment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 17(4), pages 602-05, November.
  18. Axilrod, Stephen H, 1985. "On Consequences and Criticisms of Monetary Targeting: Comment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 17(4), pages 598-602, November.
  19. Mccallum, Bennet T., 1988. "Robustness properties of a rule for monetary policy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 173-203, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Andreas Beyer & Vitor Gaspar & Christina Gerberding & Otmar Issing, 2008. "Opting Out of the Great Inflation: German Monetary Policy After the Break Down of Bretton Woods," NBER Working Papers 14596, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kevin Lee, James Morley and Kalvinder Sheields, 2011. "The Meta Taylor Rule," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1131, The University of Melbourne.
  3. Hagedorn, Marcus, 2011. "Optimal disinflation in new Keynesian models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 248-261.
  4. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2010. "Monetary Policy Mistakes and the Evolution of Inflation Expectations," Working Papers 2010-2, Central Bank of Cyprus.
  5. Daniel L. Thornton, 2009. "How did we get to inflation targeting and where do we go now? a perspective from the U.S. experience," Working Papers 2009-038, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  6. Marvin Goodfriend, 2007. "How the World Achieved Consensus on Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 13580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Guido Ascari & Tiziano Ropele, 2012. "Disinflation effects in a medium-scale New Keynesian model: money supply rule versus interest rate rule," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 867, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  8. Athanasios Orphanides, 2006. "The Road to Price Stability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 178-181, May.

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