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Treasury Bill Rates in the 1970s and 1980s

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  • Patric H. Hendershott
  • Joe Peek

Abstract

As is widely recognized, real interest rates in the early 1980s were at peaks not witnessed since the late 1920s. Less well perceived is the sharp decline in real interest rates since 1984. By 1986-88, real interest rates were back at their average levels of the previous quarter century. This paper seeks to identify the underlying determinants of the major movements in real six-month Treasury bill rates. The rise in real interest rates between the middle 1970s and early 1980s, not surprisingly, results from a variety of factors. First, rates were unusually low in the middle 1970s owing to the first OPEC shock, which lowered investment demand and increased world saving by transferring wealth from the high-consuming developed countries to OPEC. Second, tight money, high inflation, and heightened nuclear fear all contributed to real rates becoming unusually high in the early 1980s. The eventual decline of OPEC surpluses following the second OPEC shock prolonged the period of high real rates. The decline in real rates to more normal levels in the 1986-88 period is also due to multiple factors: lower inflation, declining marginal tax rates, and easy monetary policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3036.

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Date of creation: Jul 1989
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Publication status: published as Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Vol. 24, No. 2, 1992 pp. 195-214
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3036

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  1. Cook, Timothy Q & Hendershott, Patric H, 1978. "The Impact of Taxes, Risk and Relative Security Supplies on Interest Rate Differentials," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1173-86, September.
  2. Thomas D. Simpson, 1984. "Changes in the Financial System: Implication for Monetary Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 15(1), pages 249-272.
  3. Slemrod, Joel, 1990. "Fear of Nuclear War and Intercountry Differences in the Rate of Saving," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(4), pages 647-57, October.
  4. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Startz, Richard, 1983. "Computation of linear hypothesis tests for two-stage least squares," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 11(1-2), pages 129-131.
  6. Patric H. Hendershott & Joe Peek, 1989. "Aggregate U.S. Private Saving: Conceptual Measures," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth, pages 185-226 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Stephen M. Goldfeld, 1973. "The Demand for Money Revisited," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 4(3), pages 577-646.
  8. Joe Peek and James A. Wilcox., 1982. "The Postwar Stability of the Fisher Effect," Research Program in Finance Working Papers 129, University of California at Berkeley.
  9. Makin, John H, 1983. "Real Interest, Money Surprises, Anticipated Inflation and Fiscal Deficits," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 374-84, August.
  10. Patric H. Hendershott, 1986. "Debt and Equity Returns Revisited," NBER Chapters, in: Financing Corporate Capital Formation, pages 35-50 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1981. "The Current Account and macroeconomic Adjustment in the 1970s," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(1), pages 201-282.
  12. Friedman, Benjamin M, 1988. "Lessons on Monetary Policy from the 1980s," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 51-72, Summer.
  13. Evans, Paul, 1985. "Do Large Deficits Produce High Interest Rates?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 68-87, March.
  14. Richard H. Clarida & Benjamin M. Friedman, 1983. "Why Have Short-Term Interest Rates Been So High?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 14(2), pages 553-586.
  15. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "Perspectives on High World Real Interest Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 15(2), pages 273-334.
  16. Joe Peek & James A. Wilcox, 1984. "The Degree of Fiscal Illusion in Interest Rates: Some Direct Estimates," NBER Working Papers 1358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Peek, Joe & A. Wilcox, James, 1986. "Tax rate effects on interest rates," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 183-186.
  18. Robert E. Lipsey & Helen Stone Tice, 1989. "The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lips89-1.
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Cited by:
  1. Ireland, Peter N., 2001. "Sticky-price models of the business cycle: Specification and stability," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 3-18, February.

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