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Indeterminacy and Learning: An Analysis of Monetary Policy in the Great Inflation

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  • Thomas A. Lubik
  • Christian Matthes

Abstract

We argue in this paper that the Great Inflation of the 1970s can be understood as the result of equilibrium indeterminacy in which loose monetary policy engendered excess volatility in macroeconomic aggregates and prices. We show, however, that the Federal Reserve inadvertently pursued policies that were not anti-inflationary enough because it did not fully understand the economic environment it was operating in. Specifically, it had imperfect knowledge about the structure of the U.S. economy and it was subject to data misperceptions. The real-time data flow at that time did not capture the true state of the economy, as large subsequent revisions showed. It is the combination of learning about the economy and, more importantly, the use of data riddled with measurement error that resulted in policies, which the Federal Reserve believed to be optimal, but when implemented led to equilibrium indeterminacy in the economy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University in its series CAMA Working Papers with number 2014-16.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:een:camaaa:2014-16

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Keywords: Federal Reserve; Great Moderation; Bayesian Estimation; Least Squares Learning;

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  1. Timothy Cogley & Christian Matthes & Argia M. Sbordone, 2011. "Optimal disinflation under learning," Staff Reports 524, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Thomas A. Lubik & Paolo Surico, 2010. "The Lucas critique and the stability of empirical models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(1), pages 177-194.
  3. Richard Dennis, 2001. "The policy preferences of the U.S. Federal Reserve," Working Paper Series 2001-08, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  4. Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 2004. "Were there regime switches in U.S. monetary policy?," Working Paper 2004-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  5. Orphanides, Athanasios & Williams, John C., 2004. "The decline of activist stabilization policy: Natural rate misperceptions, learning, and expectations," CFS Working Paper Series 2004/24, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  6. Troy Davig & Eric M. Leeper, 2007. "Generalizing the Taylor Principle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 607-635, June.
  7. Bullard, James & Mitra, Kaushik, 2002. "Learning about monetary policy rules," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1105-1129, September.
  8. Francesco Bianchi, 2012. "Regime Switches, Agents’ Beliefs, and Post-World War II U.S. Macroeconomic Dynamics," Working Papers 12-04, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  9. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," NBER Working Papers 6442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Seth Pruitt, 2012. "Uncertainty Over Models and Data: The Rise and Fall of American Inflation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44, pages 341-365, 03.
  11. Lubik, Thomas A. & Schorfheide, Frank, 2003. "Computing sunspot equilibria in linear rational expectations models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 273-285, November.
  12. Thomas Sargent & Noah Williams & Tao Zha, 2004. "Shocks and Government Beliefs: The Rise and Fall of American Inflation," NBER Working Papers 10764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Thomas Lubik & Frank Schorfheide, 2002. "Testing for Indeterminacy:An Application to U.S. Monetary Policy," Economics Working Paper Archive 480, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised Jun 2003.
  14. Andreas Beyer & Roger E. A. Farmer, 2007. "Testing for Indeterminacy: An Application to U.S. Monetary Policy: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 524-529, March.
  15. Sims, Christopher A, 2002. "Solving Linear Rational Expectations Models," Computational Economics, Society for Computational Economics, vol. 20(1-2), pages 1-20, October.
  16. Athanasios Orphanides, 2001. "Monetary Policy Rules Based on Real-Time Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 964-985, September.
  17. Tim W. Cogley & Thomas J. Sargent, 2005. "Anticipated Utility and Rational Expectations as Approximations of Bayesian Decision Making," Working Papers 523, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  18. Thomas J. Sargent & Paolo Surico, 2011. "Two Illustrations of the Quantity Theory of Money: Breakdowns and Revivals," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 109-28, February.
  19. Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2003. "An Estimated Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Model of the Euro Area," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(5), pages 1123-1175, 09.
  20. Givens, Gregory & Salemi, Michael, 2012. "Inferring monetary policy objectives with a partially observed state," MPRA Paper 39353, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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