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Does the Fed Respond to Oil Price Shocks?

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  • Lutz Kilian
  • Logan T. Lewis

Abstract

Since Bernanke, Gertler and Watson (1997), a common view in the literature has been that systematic monetary policy responses to the inflation triggered by oil price shocks are an important source of aggregate fluctuations in the U.S. economy. We show that there is no evidence of systematic monetary policy responses to oil price shocks after 1987 and that this lack of a policy response is unlikely to be explained by reduced real wage rigidities. Prior to 1987, according to standard VAR models, the Federal Reserve was not responding to the inflation triggered by oil price shocks, as commonly presumed, but rather to the oil price shocks directly, consistent with a preemptive move by the Federal Reserve to counteract potential inflationary pressures. There are indications that this response is poorly identified, however, and there is no evidence that this policy response in the pre-1987 period caused substantial fluctuations in the Federal Funds rate or in real output. Our analysis suggests that the traditional monetary policy reaction framework explored by BGW and incorporated in subsequent DSGE models should be replaced by DSGE models that take account of the endogeneity of the real price of oil and that allow policy responses to depend on the underlying causes of oil price shocks.
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Suggested Citation

  • Lutz Kilian & Logan T. Lewis, 2011. "Does the Fed Respond to Oil Price Shocks?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(555), pages 1047-1072, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:121:y:2011:i:555:p:1047-1072
    DOI: j.1468-0297.2011.02437.x
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • 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
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy

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