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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 Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2004-033.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2004-033

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Keywords: Monetary policy ; Federal Reserve System - History;

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  1. 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.
  2. Axilrod, Stephen H & Lindsey, David E, 1981. "Federal Reserve System Implementation of Monetary Policy: Analytical Foundations of the New Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 246-52, May.
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  4. 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.
  5. Athanasios Orphanides, 2002. "Monetary policy rules and the Great Inflation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-8, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2004. "The decline of activist stabilization policy: natural rate misperceptions, learning, and expectations," International Finance Discussion Papers 804, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Beyer, Andreas & Gaspar, Vítor & Gerberding, Christina & Issing, Otmar, 2009. "Opting out of the Great Inflation: German monetary policy after the break down of Bretton Woods," Working Paper Series 1020, European Central Bank.
  2. Athanasios Orphanides, 2006. "The Road to Price Stability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 178-181, May.
  3. Kevin Lee & James Morley & Kalvinder Shields, . "The Meta Taylor Rule," Discussion Papers 11/07, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
  4. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2012. "Monetary Policy Mistakes and the Evolution of Inflation Expectations," NBER Chapters, in: The Great Inflation: The Rebirth of Modern Central Banking, pages 255-288 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  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. Hagedorn, Marcus, 2011. "Optimal disinflation in new Keynesian models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 248-261.
  8. 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.

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