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Pushing on a String: US Monetary Policy Is Less Powerful in Recessions

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  • Silvana Tenreyro
  • Gregory Thwaites

Abstract

We investigate how the response of the US economy to monetary policy shocks depends on the state of the business cycle. The effects of monetary policy are less powerful in recessions, especially for durables expenditure and business investment. The asymmetry relates to how fast the economy is growing, rather than to the level of resource utilization. There is some evidence that fiscal policy has counteracted monetary policy in recessions but reinforced it in booms. We also find evidence that contractionary policy shocks are more powerful than expansionary shocks, but contractionary shocks have not been more common in booms. So this asymmetry cannot explain our main finding.

Suggested Citation

  • Silvana Tenreyro & Gregory Thwaites, 2016. "Pushing on a String: US Monetary Policy Is Less Powerful in Recessions," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 43-74, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:8:y:2016:i:4:p:43-74
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.20150016
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    1. Silvana Tenreyro & Gregory Thwaites, 2016. "Pushing on a String: US Monetary Policy Is Less Powerful in Recessions," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 43-74, October.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy

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