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Three Great American Disinflations

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  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Christopher Erceg
  • Andrew Levin
  • Ryan Michaels

Abstract

This paper analyzes the role of transparency and credibility in accounting for the widely divergent macroeconomic effects of three episodes of deliberate monetary contraction: the post-Civil War deflation, the post-WWI deflation, and the Volcker disinflation. Using a dynamic general equilibrium model in which private agents use optimal filtering to infer the central bank's nominal anchor, we demonstrate that the salient features of these three historical episodes can be explained by differences in the design and transparency of monetary policy, even without any time variation in economic structure or model parameters. For a policy regime with relatively high credibility, our analysis highlights the benefits of a gradualist approach (as in the 1870s) rather than a sudden change in policy (as in 1920-21). In contrast, for a policy institution with relatively low credibility (such as the Federal Reserve in late 1980), an aggressive policy stance can play an important signalling role by making the policy shift more evident to private agents.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12982.

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Date of creation: Mar 2007
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Publication status: published as Michael Bordo & Christopher Erceg & Andrew Levin & Ryan Michaels, 2007. "Three great American disinflations," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12982

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Cited by:
  1. Wolfgang Pollan, . "Incomes Policies, Expectations and the NAIRU," WIFO Working Papers 433, WIFO.
  2. Elmar Mertens, 2010. "Managing beliefs about monetary policy under discretion," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-11, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Barnett, Alina & Ellison, Martin, 2012. "Learning by disinflating," Research Discussion Papers 10/2012, Bank of Finland.
  4. Alan S. Blinder & Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher & Jakob De Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2008. "Central Bank Communication and Monetary Policy: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 1038, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  5. Michael D. Bordo & Joseph G. Haubrich, 2009. "Credit crises, money, and contractions: A historical view," Working Paper 0908, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  6. Christopher Reicher, 2009. "What Can a New Keynesian Labor Matching Model Match?," Kiel Working Papers 1496, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  7. Michael D. Bordo & David C. Wheelock, 2007. "Stock market booms and monetary policy in the twentieth century," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 91-122.

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