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The impact of monetary policy in the midst of big shocks

Listed author(s):
  • Ohanian, Lee E.

This paper studies the impact of Federal Reserve policies that created the largest deviations from price stability during the Fed׳s first 100 years: the post-World War I deflation, the deflation of the Great Depression, the inflation of World War II, and the Great Inflation of the 1970s. In terms of their macroeconomic impacts, I find that deflation was uniquely depressing in the 1930s because of cartel policies that prevented nominal prices and wages from adjusting to clear markets, and not because deflation is generically depressing. I find that the biggest impact of monetary policy during World War II was in debasing debt through inflation. I find that the main drivers of the 1970s economy were long-run changes in productivity and the labor market, and that there may have been little that the Fed could have done at this time to expand employment and output. More broadly, I find that macroeconomic performance would have been better over the Fed׳s first century had the Fed followed a monetary policy to deliver stable prices.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016518891400219X
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control.

Volume (Year): 49 (2014)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 35-48

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Handle: RePEc:eee:dyncon:v:49:y:2014:i:c:p:35-48
DOI: 10.1016/j.jedc.2014.09.007
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jedc

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  1. Lee Ohanian & Andrea Raffo & Richard Rogerson, 2006. "Long-Term Changes in Labor Supply and Taxes: Evidence from OECD Countries, 1956-2004," NBER Working Papers 12786, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hall, George J. & Sargent, Thomas J., 2014. "Fiscal discriminations in three wars," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 148-166.
  3. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2002. "Business cycle accounting," Working Papers 625, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Aizenman, Joshua & Marion, Nancy, 2011. "Using inflation to erode the US public debt," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 524-541.
  5. Bernanke, Ben S, 1995. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 1-28, February.
  6. Matthias Doepke & Martin Schneider, 2006. "Inflation and the Redistribution of Nominal Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(6), pages 1069-1097, December.
  7. Ellen R. McGrattan & Lee E. Ohanian, 2008. "Does neoclassical theory account for the effects of big fiscal shocks? Evidence from World War II," Staff Report 315, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Ohanian, Lee E., 2009. "What - or who - started the great depression?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2310-2335, November.
  9. Robert Shimer, 2009. "Convergence in Macroeconomics: The Labor Wedge," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 280-297, January.
  10. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-417, June.
  11. Ben S. Bernanke, 1983. "Non-Monetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in the Propagation of the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 1054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. William E. Cullison, 1989. "The U.S. productivity slowdown: what the experts say," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Jul, pages 10-21.
  13. David C. Wheelock, 1992. "Monetary policy in the Great Depression: what the Fed did and why," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 3-28.
  14. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1, September.
  15. Lutz Kilian, 2014. "Oil Price Shocks: Causes and Consequences," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 133-154, October.
  16. King, Robert G. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1999. "Resuscitating real business cycles," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 927-1007 Elsevier.
  17. Christina D. Romer, 1993. "The Nation in Depression," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 19-39, Spring.
  18. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2001. "New Deal policies and the persistence of the Great Depression: a general equilibrium analysis," Working Papers 597, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  19. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  20. Marvin Goodfriend & Robert G. King, 2012. "The Great Inflation Drift," NBER Chapters, in: The Great Inflation: The Rebirth of Modern Central Banking, pages 181-209 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Andrew Atkeson & Patrick Kehoe, 2004. "Deflation and Depression: Is There and Empirical Link?," NBER Working Papers 10268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Robert L. Hetzel, 1985. "The rules verses discretion debate over monetary policy in the 1920s," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Nov, pages 3-14.
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