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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 upon 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 markets 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

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2005-02.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2005-02

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Keywords: Federal Open Market Committee ; Monetary policy - United States;

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  1. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2004. "Monetary Policy Rules, Macroeconomic Stability, and Inflation: A View from the Trenches," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(2), pages 151-75, April.
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  3. P.A. Tinsley & P. von zur Muehlen & G. Fries, 1982. "The short-run volatility of money stock targeting," Special Studies Papers 169, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  7. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
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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. Marvin Goodfriend, 2007. "How the World Achieved Consensus on Monetary Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 47-68, Fall.
  3. 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.
  4. Athanasios Orphanides, 2006. "The road to price stability," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2006-05, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2010. "Monetary policy mistakes and the evolution of inflation expectations," Working Paper Series 2010-12, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  6. 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.
  7. Kevin Lee, James Morley and Kalvinder Sheields, 2011. "The Meta Taylor Rule," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1131, The University of Melbourne.
  8. Hagedorn, Marcus, 2011. "Optimal disinflation in new Keynesian models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 248-261.

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