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Monetary policy in deflation: the liquidity trap in history and practice

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  • Athanasios Orphanides

Abstract

The experience of the U.S. economy during the mid-1930s, when short-term nominal interest rates were continuously close to zero, is sometimes taken as evidence that monetary policy was ineffective and the economy was in a "liquidity trap." Close examination of the historical policy record for the period indicates that the evidence does not support such assertions. The incomplete and erratic recovery from the Great Depression can be traced to a failure to pursue consistently expansionary policy resulting from an incorrect understanding of monetary policy in an environment of very low short-term nominal interest rates. Commonalities with the Japanese experience during the late 1990s and the inadequacy of short-term interest rates as indicators of the stance of monetary policy are discussed, and a robust operating procedure for implementing monetary policy in a low interest rate environment by adjusting the maturity of targeted interest rate instruments is described.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2004-01.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2004-01

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Keywords: Deflation (Finance) - Japan ; Monetary policy - Japan ; Liquidity (Economics) - Japan;

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  2. Svensson, Lars, 2000. "The Zero Bound in an Open Economy: A Foolproof Way of Escaping from a Liquidity Trap," Seminar Papers 687, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  3. Athanasios Orphanides & Volker Wieland, 1999. "Efficient monetary policy design near price stability," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-67, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  7. Athanasios Orphanides, 2003. "Historical monetary policy analysis and the Taylor rule," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-36, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. James Clouse & Dale Henderson & Athanasios Orphanides & David Small & Peter Tinsley, 2000. "Monetary policy when the nominal short-term interest rate is zero," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-51, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Paul R. Krugman, 1998. "It's Baaack: Japan's Slump and the Return of the Liquidity Trap," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 137-206.
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  17. Coenen, Guenter & Wieland, Volker, 2003. "The Zero-Interest-Rate and the Role of the Exchange Rate for Monetary Policy in Japan," CFS Working Paper Series 2003/09, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  18. Okina, Kunio, 1999. "Monetary Policy under Zero Inflation: A Response to Criticisms and Questions Regarding Monetary Policy," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 17(3), pages 157-182, December.
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  21. Karl Brunner & Allan H. Meltzer, 1968. "Liquidity Traps for Money, Bank Credit, and Interest Rates," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 1.
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