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Learning about a shift in trend output: implications for monetary policy and inflation

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  • Kevin J. Lansing

Abstract

This paper develops a small forward-looking macroeconomic model where the Federal Reserve estimates the level of potential output in real time by running a regression on past output data. The Fed's perceived output gap is used as an input to the monetary policy rule while the true output gap influences aggregate demand and inflation. I investigate the consequences of two postulated shifts in the growth rate of U.S. potential output; the first occurs in the early-1970s and the second in the mid-1990s. Initially, Fed policymakers interpret these shifts to be cyclical shocks but their regression algorithm allows them to gradually discover the truth as the economy evolves over time. Under a Taylor-type rule, the model can produce a hump-shaped pattern in trend inflation that peaks around 1980 and a downward movement in trend inflation since 1995. Under a nominal income rule, these low-frequency movements in inflation are substantially reduced but not eliminated. The business cycle stabilization properties of the two rules turn out to be quite similar. Finally, using stochastic simulations, I show that efforts to identify the Fed's policy rule using a regression based on final data can create the illusion of strong interest rate smoothing behavior when in fact none exists.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin J. Lansing, 2000. "Learning about a shift in trend output: implications for monetary policy and inflation," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfpr:y:2000:x:2
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    Cited by:

    1. Ehrmann, Michael & Smets, Frank, 2003. "Uncertain potential output: implications for monetary policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(9), pages 1611-1638, July.
    2. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2001. "Is The Fed Too Timid? Monetary Policy In An Uncertain World," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 203-217, May.
    3. Viñals, José, 2001. "Monetary Policy Issues in a Low Inflation Environment," CEPR Discussion Papers 2945, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Yash P. Mehra, 2002. "The Taylor principle, interest rate smoothing and Fed policy in the 1970s and 1980s," Working Paper 02-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    5. Nelson, Edward & Nikolov, Kalin, 2004. "Monetary Policy and Stagflation in the UK," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(3), pages 293-318, June.
    6. Timothy Cogley & Thomas J. Sargent, 2005. "The conquest of US inflation: Learning and robustness to model uncertainty," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(2), pages 528-563, April.
    7. Camba-Mendez, Gonzalo & Rodriguez-Palenzuela, Diego, 2003. "Assessment criteria for output gap estimates," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 529-562, May.
    8. Simona Delle Chiaie, 2007. "Monetary Policy and Potential Output Uncertainty: A Quantitative Assessment," CEIS Research Paper 94, Tor Vergata University, CEIS.
    9. Cukierman, Alex & Lippi, Francesco, 2005. "Endogenous monetary policy with unobserved potential output," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1951-1983, November.
    10. Fabrice Collard & Harris Dellas, 2007. "The Great Inflation of the 1970s," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(2‐3), pages 713-731, March.
    11. Svensson, Lars E. O. & Woodford, Michael, 2003. "Indicator variables for optimal policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 691-720, April.
    12. Tillmann, Peter, 2014. "Robust monetary policy, optimal delegation and misspecified potential output," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 244-247.
    13. Edge, Rochelle M. & Laubach, Thomas & Williams, John C., 2007. "Learning and shifts in long-run productivity growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2421-2438, November.
    14. Francisco Gallego & Christian Johnson, 2005. "Building confidence intervals for band-pass and Hodrick-Prescott filters: an application using bootstrapping," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(7), pages 741-749.
    15. Nelson, Edward & Nikolov, Kalin, 2003. "UK inflation in the 1970s and 1980s: the role of output gap mismeasurement," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 353-370.
    16. Nelson Edward, 2005. "The Great Inflation of the Seventies: What Really Happened?," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-50, July.
    17. Rochelle Edge & Thomas Laubach, 2004. "Learning and Shifts in Long-Run Growth," Computing in Economics and Finance 2004 123, Society for Computational Economics.
    18. Andersen, Torben M. & Beier, Niels C., 2005. "International transmission of transitory and persistent monetary shocks under imperfect information," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 485-507, July.
    19. James B. Bullard & John Duffy, 2004. "Learning and structural change in macroeconomic data," Working Papers 2004-016, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    20. Ehrmann, Michael & Smets, Frank, 2003. "Uncertain potential output: implications for monetary policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(9), pages 1611-1638, July.
    21. Rafael Domenech & Mayte Ledo & David Taguas, 2001. "A Small Forward-Looking Macroeconomic Model for EMU," Working Papers 0102, BBVA Bank, Economic Research Department.
    22. Söderström, Ulf, 2001. "Targeting Inflation with a Prominent Role for Money," Working Paper Series 123, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    23. Pei Kuang & Kaushik Mitra & Li Tang, 2022. "Output Gap Estimation and Monetary Policy with Imperfect Knowledge," Discussion Papers 22-09, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    24. Olofin, S.O. & Olubusoye, O.E. & Mordi, C.N.O. & Salisu, A.A. & Adeleke, A.I. & Orekoya, S.O. & Olowookere, A.E. & Adebiyi, M.A., 2014. "A small macroeconometric model of the Nigerian economy," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 305-313.
    25. Robert R Tchaidze, 2001. "Estimating Taylor Rules in a Real Time Setting," Economics Working Paper Archive 457, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.

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