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The unusual behavior of the federal funds and 10-year Treasury rates: a conundrum or Goodhart’s Law?

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  • Daniel L. Thornton

Abstract

In February 2005, former Chairman Alan Greenspan referred to the decline in long-term rates in the wake of the Fed increasing the target for the federal funds rate by 150 basis points as a “conundrum.” Greenspan’s remarks generated considerable interest and research. I show that the relationship between the 10 year Treasury yield and the federal funds rate changed dramatically in the late 1980s, well in advance of Greenspan’s observation. I argue that the marked change in the relationship between the federal funds rate and long-term yields is a natural consequence of Goodhart’s Law.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2007-039.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2007-039

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Keywords: Federal funds market (United States) ; Government securities;

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  1. Troy Davig & Eric M. Leeper, 2005. "Generalizing the Taylor Principle," NBER Working Papers 11874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Francis X. Diebold & Celia Chen, 1993. "Testing structural stability with endogenous break point: a size comparison of analytic and bootstrap procedures," Working Papers 93-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  3. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Eric T. Swanson & Tao Wu, 2006. "The Bond Yield "Conundrum" from a Macro-Finance Perspective," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 24(S1), pages 83-109, December.
  4. Ben S. Bernanke & Vincent R. Reinhart & Brian P. Sack, 2004. "Monetary Policy Alternatives at the Zero Bound: An Empirical Assessment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 35(2), pages 1-100.
  5. Don H. Kim & Athanasios Orphanides, 2005. "Term structure estimation with survey data on interest rate forecasts," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-48, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Rudebusch, Glenn D., 1995. "Federal Reserve interest rate targeting, rational expectations, and the term structure," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 245-274, April.
  7. William Poole & Robert H & Rasche & Daniel L. Thornton, 2002. "Market anticipations of monetary policy actions," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 65-94.
  8. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Tao Wu, 2007. "Accounting for a Shift in Term Structure Behavior with No-Arbitrage and Macro-Finance Models," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(2-3), pages 395-422, 03.
  9. Daniel L. Thornton, 2007. "The lower and upper bounds of the Federal Open Market Committee's long-run inflation objective," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 183-194.
  10. William Poole, 2007. "Milton and money stock control," Speech 118, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  11. Don H. Kim & Jonathan H. Wright, 2005. "An arbitrage-free three-factor term structure model and the recent behavior of long-term yields and distant-horizon forward rates," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-33, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Thornton, Daniel L., 2004. "The Fed and short-term rates: Is it open market operations, open mouth operations or interest rate smoothing?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 475-498, March.
  13. Edward Nelson, 2004. "The Great Inflation of the seventies: what really happened?," Working Papers 2004-001, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Daniel L. Thornton, 2008. "Monetary policy: why money matters and interest rates don't," Working Papers 2008-011, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  3. Daniel L. Thornton, 2009. "The identification of the response of interest rates to monetary policy actions using market-based measures of monetary policy shocks," Working Papers 2009-037, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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