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Inflation measure, Taylor rules, and the Greenspan-Bernanke years

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  • Yash P. Mehra
  • Bansai Sawhney
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    Abstract

    Recent research has emphasized that the Federal Reserve under Chairman Alan Greenspan was forward looking, smoothed interest rates, and focused on core inflation. The semiannual monetary policy reports to U.S. Congress indicate that the measure of inflation used in monetary policy deliberations has also been refined over time: For most of the Greenspan period before 2000, inflation forecasts used the consumer price index (CPI), but in the early 2000s, inflation forecasts switched to using the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) deflator. Using information contained in Greenbook forecasts, this article estimates two forward-looking Taylor rules that differ only with respect to the measure of inflation used over 1987:1-2006:4. A Taylor rule that is estimated using a time-varying measure of core inflation-CPI until 2000 and PCE thereafter-depicts parameter stability in the Greenspan years, and tracks the actual path of the federal funds rate during the subperiod 2000:1–2006:4, when the measure of inflation used changed. In contrast, a Taylor rule that is estimated using headline CPI inflation does not depict such parameter stability, and indicates the actual funds rate was too low relative to the level prescribed during the subperiod 2000:1-2006:4, as headline CPI inflation remained elevated because of the continual rise in oil prices. Moreover, in real time during most of this subperiod, core PCE inflation was much lower than what is indicated by the current vintage data. These results highlight the importance of using real-time information in evaluating historical monetary policy actions.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its journal Economic Quarterly.

    Volume (Year): (2010)
    Issue (Month): 2Q ()
    Pages: 123-151

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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedreq:y:2010:i:2q:p:123-151:n:v.96no.2

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    Keywords: Inflation (Finance) ; Monetary policy;

    References

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    1. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2001. "Term structure evidence on interest rate smoothing and monetary policy inertia," Working Paper Series 2001-02, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    2. Jane Dokko & Brian Doyle & Michael T. Kiley & Jinill Kim & Shane Sherlund & Jae Sim & Skander Van den Heuvel, 2009. "Monetary policy and the housing bubble," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-49, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Clarida, Richard & Galí, Jordi & Gertler, Mark, 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 1908, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Ben S. Bernanke & Jean Boivin, 2001. "Monetary Policy in a Data-Rich Environment," NBER Working Papers 8379, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Michael T. Kiley, 2008. "Estimating the common trend rate of inflation for consumer prices and consumer prices excluding food and energy prices," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-38, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    6. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2006. "Monetary Policy Inertia: Fact or Fiction?," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 2(4), December.
    7. Granger, C. W. J. & Newbold, P., 1974. "Spurious regressions in econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 111-120, July.
    8. Athanasios Orphanides, 1998. "Monetary policy rules based on real-time data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-03, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    9. Mehra, Yash P., 2001. "The bond rate and estimated monetary policy rules," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 345-358.
    10. Josephine M. Smith & John B. Taylor, 2007. "The Long and the Short End of the Term Structure of Policy Rules," NBER Working Papers 13635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Ellis, Michael A. & Liu, Dandan, 2013. "Do FOMC forecasts add value to staff forecasts?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 332-340.

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