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Federal Reserve Policy: Cause and Effect

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  • Matthew D. Shapiro

Abstract

Romer and Romer (1989,1990,1992) identify dates where the Federal Reserve appears to have shifted its policy towards reducing the rate of inflation. This paper examines the economic context that drives this decision. It finds that the Fed appears to weigh the outlook for unemployment as well as that for inflation in making its decision about disinflation. Previous work has not examined the course of inflation over the disinflations. This paper finds responses of the inflation rate to the "disinflations" only in a specification where the effects of the policy are presumed to be permanent Moreover, the Volcker disinflation is found to be the only "disinflation" to reduce inflation permanently. The disinflation after the 1973 OPEC price increases was effective, but only temporarily. Other disinflations had negligible impacts on the rate of inflation over all horizons. Variables measuring the expected present discounted values of unemployment and inflation are constructed. These variables are used in a discrete-choice model to explain the Fed's decision to disinflate. This model does a fairly good job of explaining the Fed's decisions. Both inflation and unemployment drive the Fed's decision. For some episodes, notably in the 1970's, inflation is the main variable driving the decision. In the 1969 and 1988 episodes, unemployment matters more.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4342.

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Date of creation: Dec 1994
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Publication status: published as Matthew D. Shapiro. "Federal Reserve Policy: Cause and Effect," in N. Gregory Mankiw, ed., "Monetary Policy" The University of Chicago Press (1994)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4342

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  1. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1990. "Does Monetary Policy Matter? A New Test in the Spirit of Friedman and Schwartz," NBER Working Papers 2966, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Dickey, David A & Fuller, Wayne A, 1981. "Likelihood Ratio Statistics for Autoregressive Time Series with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 1057-72, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Marvin Goodfriend & Robert G. King, 2005. "The Incredible Volcker Disinflation," Boston University - Department of Economics - Macroeconomics Working Papers Series WP2005-007, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  2. Ramey, Valerie A. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1998. "Costly capital reallocation and the effects of government spending," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 145-194, June.
  3. Christina D. Romer, 1999. "Changes in Business Cycles: Evidence and Explanations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 23-44, Spring.
  4. Robert Barsky & Christopher L. House & Miles Kimball, 2005. "Sticky Price Models and Durable Goods," Macroeconomics 0501031, EconWPA.
  5. Leeper, Eric M., 1997. "Narrative and VAR approaches to monetary policy: Common identification problems," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 641-657, December.
  6. Rodrigo Valdés, 1998. "Efectos de la Política Monetaria en Chile," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 35(104), pages 97-125.
  7. Chan G. Huh & Kevin J. Lansing, 1998. "Federal Reserve credibility and inflation scares," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 3-16.
  8. Charles A. Fleischman, 1999. "The causes of business cycles and the cyclicality of real wages," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-53, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Collard , F. & Fève, P. & Matheron, J., 2007. "The Dynamic Effects of Disinflation Policies," Working papers 190, Banque de France.
  10. Robert Barsky & Christopher L. House & Miles Kimball, 2003. "Do Flexible Durable Goods Prices Undermine Sticky Price Models?," NBER Working Papers 9832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Boschen, John F. & Weise, Charles L., 2001. "The Ex Ante Credibility of Disinflation Policy and the Cost of Reducing Inflation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 323-347, July.
  12. Romer, Christina D. & Romer, David H., 1997. "Identification and the narrative approach: A reply to Leeper," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 659-665, December.
  13. Chan G. Huh & Kevin J. Lansing, 1997. "Expectations, credibility, and disinflation in a small macroeconomic model," Working Paper 9713, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  14. Brand, Claus & Cassola, Nuno, 2000. "A money demand system for euro area M3," Working Paper Series 0039, European Central Bank.
  15. Claus Brand & Nuno Cassola, 2004. "A money demand system for euro area M3," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(8), pages 817-838.

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