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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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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. 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.
  2. Andrew Atkeson & Patrick J. Kehoe, 2004. "Deflation and Depression: Is There an Empirical Link?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 99-103, May.
  3. Ohanian, Lee & Raffo, Andrea & Rogerson, Richard, 2008. "Long-term changes in labor supply and taxes: Evidence from OECD countries, 1956-2004," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1353-1362, November.
  4. 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.
  5. Lutz Kilian, 2014. "Oil Price Shocks: Causes and Consequences," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 133-154, October.
  6. Ohanian, Lee E., 2009. "What - or who - started the great depression?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2310-2335, November.
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  13. Robert Shimer, 2009. "Convergence in Macroeconomics: The Labor Wedge," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 280-297, January.
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  16. Ellen R. M cG rattan & Lee E. Ohanian, 2010. "Does Neoclassical Theory Account For The Effects Of Big Fiscal Shocks? Evidence From World War Ii," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(2), pages 509-532, 05.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2004. "New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 779-816, August.
  20. 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, June.
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  22. 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.
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